Requirement could force low-income tenants to remain in fuel poverty
Households face green deal credit check
Tenants with a poor credit history could be excluded from the government’s flagship energy-efficiency scheme.
The Green Deal Finance Company, which will provide 80 per cent of the funding for the scheme, has confirmed it will carry out a credit check on anyone applying for a green deal loan. This is in response to the Office of Fair Trading’s guidance.
Social landlords and green deal providers are worried tenants with a poor credit history risk being stuck in cold, inefficient housing.
Pippa Read, policy leader on sustainable environments at the National Housing Federation, said: ‘This must not be done at the expense of very low-income and vulnerable groups that should be encouraged to access the green deal.’
Nigel Banks, head of energy at housing contractor Keepmoat, which plans to become a green deal provider, said he was ‘nervous’ about the prospect of credit checks.
But Paul Davies, a senior partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, said the GDFC, of which he is a chief figure, will approach the credit check ‘with a brain’.
‘We have to do a credit check but the threshold for getting a green deal should be lower than if they were getting a loan for the same value,’ he said.
Mr Davies said GDFC is still ‘working on’ what the threshold will be.
Under the green deal, householders receive improvements to their homes with the upfront costs being paid by green deal providers. The costs are recouped by savings in energy bills.
Patrick Sweeney, a senior associate at law firm Bevan Brittan, warned that because the green deal is a completely new type of financial instrument, lenders may be cautious and require additional checks.
The OFT has advised that green deals should be treated as if they are an unsecured personal loan, which usually requires a credit check.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: ‘The Office of Fair Trading guidelines state that green deal providers will need to carry out an affordability assessment on consumers before they can sign up to a green deal plan. It is up to individual green deal providers how they meet this requirement.’
Keepmoat’s Mr Banks concluded: ‘We don’t want to throw up another problem with the green deal, [but] we want to make sure everyone can access this.’
Rob Lambe, managing director of Willmott Dixon Energy Services, another aspiring green deal provider, added that the credit checks are ‘contrary’ to the green deal’s design.