Green Deal Jobs
Five Months to its Launch and the Green Deal is Still Under Fire
He may have already left the Cabinet, but former Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne is still being forced to fight his corner to secure the implementation of his Green Deal legislation. Mounting a vigorous defence of his scheme, he attacked posturing top Tories who are seeking to delay or even bury the initiative which is scheduled for launch in October 2012.
Those opposed to the Deal feel that the effects of the recession, and the inevitable cuts facing household incomes, will make it impossible for homeowners wishing to join the scheme to afford the energy efficiency improvements necessary to claim eligibility for inclusion in the Green Deal funding. One senior Conservative spokesman told the Sunday Telegraph that forcing people to pay thousands of pounds for unwanted extra home insulation is madness. His comments were countered by aides to Ed Davey, the current Energy Secretary, who stated that the average cost for improvements had been calculated at no more than £500 per household, an amount which would be quickly offset by lower energy bills.
The Coalition have announced their intention that, by 2020, up to 14 million UK homes will have been insulated under the Green Deal. Currently 20 companies have signed up to the initiative hoping to benefit from the potential for increased profits and job creation across the construction, manufacturing, distribution and installation industries.
Will the Green Deal Assessors 'Do it when they B&Q It'?
It was recently reported in the Daily Telegraph that DIY giant B&Q were anticipating a multi-million pound increase in profits following their inclusion in the government's Green Deal scheme. Under the initiative, participating householders can borrow up to £10,000 to fund energy efficiency improvements which may include insulation, draught proofing, double glazing and solar PV panels. Some commentators fear that private sector assessors who will be employed by the participating businesses may over exaggerate the improvements needed in order to optimise profits for their employers.
B&Q have already developed close ties to the Coalition Government. Nick Clegg announced recently that the company had been selected to implement a pilot scheme whereby they would clear the homeowner's loft prior to installing insulation and remove any unwanted goods to be recycled or sent to charity shops. B&Q were also involved in a trial in South West London where 70 homes were fitted with solar panels, draught proofing, insulation and updated boilers, and with costs for solar arrays ranging from £5,000, radiators from £1,000 and energy efficient boilers from £600, the company can expect to make significant financial benefits from the Green Deal implementations.
The consumer organisation, Consumer Focus has advised that it is essential that the government requires Green Deal providers to set out their offers, including costs and potential savings, in a clear and comparable form. For the scheme to maintain credibility and achieve the uptake required by the government, UK homeowners must have complete trust in the veracity of all those sectors involved in the Green Deal implementation.
The Benefits for UK Jobs
A survey conducted by the GDSA (Green Deal Skills Alliance) among the UK's construction industry has found relative optimism from within the sector, with predictions of a 20% boost to profits coming directly from Green Deal improvements. However, the good news is tempered by forecasts that most of these benefits will be enjoyed by larger companies with little income generation filtering down to the smaller businesses. Industry analysts also found there to be a skills shortage with many employees being unaware of the Green Deal and its implications for the construction and installation sector as a whole. It was reported that a mass retraining of staff would be needed to get the current workforce up to speed to deliver the energy efficiency improvements and that government predictions of 65,000 new jobs to service the Green Deal may not be too far from accurate.
Martin Farrar, Chief Executive of CITB Construction Skills, felt that there was still the potential opportunity for smaller businesses to benefit from the Green Deal initiative through sub-contracting. He said he and his members would be working to support SMEs (small and medium enterprises) so that they can discover and unlock the scheme's commercial and employment opportunities.
It is the view of many in the environmental sector, including the chief policy advisor of Greenpeace UK, Ruth Davis, that unless David Cameron takes a more decisive stance on the Green Deal initiative, the potential for billions of pounds of investment and thousands of new jobs in the green industries could be in jeopardy. Investors are adopting a wait and see attitude to committing their financial backing to the scheme following the recent lukewarm response to the policy from many on the Conservative side of the Coalition.
With the UK now in the grip of a double dip recession, the economy needs all the support it can get and the potential for job creation within the renewable energy industry delivered by the Green Deal strategy could provide just the boost it needs.