Critics say Coalition's Green Deal is no solution to curse of fuel poverty

Energy efficiency is key in cutting the bills. But who pays?

The Department of Energy & Climate Change launched the Government's flagship energy-efficiency scheme on Monday. It's the latest attempt to battle the growing problem of fuel poverty, but critics accuse government policy of only making the situation worse.

The new so-called Green Deal allows homeowners to pay for energy-efficient home improvements through expected savings on their energy bills. Millions of homes do not have double-glazing, for instance, which helps to cut down wasted energy and has a knock-on effect of reducing heating bills. Other improvements that can cut bills and reduce fuel poverty include draught-proofing or insulating homes or putting in a more modern, efficient condensing boiler.

But critics of the new scheme challenge the Government's claims that homeowners will end up saving money in the long term despite having to repay the cost of their home improvements through their electricity bills.

Luciana Berger MP, the shadow Climate Change minister, warned: "Because of sky-high interest rates, hidden charges and penalty payments, the reality for most people will be that the Green Deal ends up costing them more than they save."

In fact many people may be better off arranging finance elsewhere as the Green Deal could lumber them with a debt that could be detrimental and put off future buyers, warned Alan Milstein, of the Residential Property Surveyors Association. "With early repayment penalties and the uncertainty surrounding how having a Green Deal loan attached to your property will impact on its future saleability, for many homeowners it may be advisable to look at alternative ways to fund any energy efficiency measures."

In theory, anyone selling their home who has taken advantage of the Green Deal can pass on the outstanding loan amount to a new buyer. But effectively that will mean the new buyer having to pay more for the cost of heating their home than they need to, until the outstanding cost of improvements is repaid to the energy firm.

There are 45 different types of improvements available under the Green Deal, and households in England and Wales could also qualify for cashback worth more than £1,000. Active measures, such as lighting, reduce the amount of energy you use, whereas passive measures, such as insulation, prevent heat from being wasted.

Cost savings can be considerable. Cutting back on wasted energy will also help the environment. This is crucial in the battle against global warming. Shamefully, Britain's ageing buildings are among the least-energy efficient in the world, and account for 38 per cent of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions, according to government figures.

So there is a general consensus across the energy industry and government that improving the energy efficiency of homes is the best way to tackle the growing problem of people being able to afford to heat their homes while dealing with growing concerns about the environment.

But the Coalition's plans appear to be woefully inadequate in actually cutting the number of homes in fuel poverty, where the cost of heating a home takes up a tenth of a householder's income.

The Government's impact assessment estimates that Green Deal will lead to 125,000 to 250,000 households being lifted out of fuel poverty by 2023. But that's nowhere near enough, said Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK.

"The Government's target of lifting just 250,000 households out of fuel poverty over the next 10 years is tantamount to trying to bail out a sinking boat with a teacup; in the last month alone another 300,000 households have joined the ranks of the fuel poor," she pointed out.

It is estimated that some nine million households could fall into fuel poverty by 2016 while six million households are already in fuel poverty.

The closure of the previous Warm Front scheme means there is now no government-funded scheme to tackle fuel poverty.

In effect, the Coalition has transferred responsibility for the fuel poverty problem to energy companies. "That displays a serious failure of government to get to grips with the issue," said Ms Mitchell. "The price of energy will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, so effectively insulating our homes against heat loss is the only way to help consumers to pay their bills and stay warm," she said.

Age UK believes money raised from new carbon taxes of around £4bn a year over the next 15 years should be used to overhaul the energy efficiency of the UK's housing stock, as other European countries are doing.

"To meet the size of the fuel poverty problem, only investment on this scale would offer a lasting solution to the scourge of fuel poverty," said Ms Mitchell.

If you do want to find out more about how you can take advantage of the Green Deal, you can get free advice by calling the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 or by visiting www.gov.uk/greendeal.

If you apply, an assessor will be sent to your home and will make recommendations about improvements that may work for you. You'll then be expected to get quotes from approved Green Deal providers and once the quote, and the repayment plan, is agreed, work can start.

Complaints can be taken to the Energy Ombudsman Service on 0330 440 162 or www.ombudsman-services.org

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

    £50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

    £200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone