After the launch on 23 November of the Green Deal consultation, and the announcement shortly after that an extra £200 million will be allocated by the treasury to ensure uptake Karen Lawrence, head of consulting here at Local Energy, shares her thoughts on what the programme will mean for local authorities.
Local authorities using Green Deal for council housing
In principle, this could be one of the largest groups to benefit from Green Deal. Local authorities could use Green Deal finance to upgrade council-owned housing stock, with tenants paying for it through their energy bills. However, there is a requirement for consent from both the bill payer and the property owner: How easy will it be to persuade council tenants to give consent? They will be taking on responsibility for repaying a loan that has been used to make improvements to a council property… I would suggest this isn’t going to be easy (and remember, they have to be told that savings are not guaranteed and their bills may go up!). Local authorities need to think about how they can gain consent – financial incentives might be offered, but this could lead to accusations of bribery or tenants being coerced into taking on debt they didn’t want.
Local authorities using ECO (carbon emissions reduction obligation) for council housing
This component of ECO funding might be used for council properties where the cost of carrying out measures does not meet the Golden Rule (hard-to-treat homes). The only permissible measure that can be installed under ECO is solid wall insulation (plus other measures only if installed in addition to solid wall insulation), so the scope for using ECO is limited to specific types of property where solid wall insulation has been recommended by the GDA. This will be more useful for some local authorities than others, but they should consider how eligible properties can be identified and referred to ECO suppliers.
Local authorities using ECO (home heating cost reduction obligation) for council housing
This component of ECO funding will be aimed at the ‘affordable warmth group’, but the consultation indicates it is likely to be restricted to those in private housing tenures (owner occupiers and private tenants). (Social housing is excluded as it has ‘benefitted disproportionately’ from CERT, CESP and Decent Homes programmes previously and 81% of the fuel poor live in private tenure properties). This funding is unlikely to be available for council housing (or other social housing), therefore, but local authorities will need to consider how best to identify eligible households in private tenure and provide ‘referrals’ to the ECO suppliers.
We encourage all local authorities to start thinking about what role they will play in the Green Deal, and how it will fit into their wider sustainability strategy. Local authorities should participate in the consultation which ends on the 18th January 2012 after reading the ‘Information note of Local Authorities’.