OFT: Green deal needs single regulator
The Office of Fair Trading has recommended that the government appoints a single body to regulate its flagship energy efficiency scheme, the green deal.
The competition watchdog called for the new body to have a ‘clear responsibility’ for long term monitoring of the quality of installations carried out under the £1.3 billion-a-year energy company obligation subsidy and the green deal.
It made the call in the wake of a four month investigation into anti-competitive practices in the £700 million insulation sector which found that some traders are delivering poor work and installing the wrong materials. It also found that consumers were struggling to resolve problems.
Under the green deal households can receive retrofit works such as insulation at no upfront cost. They pay for the works using green deal loans attached to their properties which are then repaid over time through the resulting savings in their energy bills. ECO funding is available to subsidise measures where they fail to create the savings needed to repay the cost of the works.
The OFT found there is only a ‘very small’ number of manufacturers supplying home insulation products. As a result it received complaints about the length of time it can take for new products to be approved for use in the market.
The watchdog suggested that to reduce barriers for manufacturers creating innovative insulation products, certification bodies should improve their certification processes.
It is also encouraging architects, building control officers and other building project commissioners to be more open to specifying products from more than one UK product certification body.
Climate change minister Greg Barker said the green deal would address many of the concerns raised by the OFT when it is launched in October, but didn’t comment on the call for a new monitoring body.
He pointed out that there are several consumer protection measures being taken for the green deal including a quality mark to protect customers from rogue traders and a green deal oversight body, which will carry out spot checks on scheme participants.
‘[This report] shows that people are not always being well served by the current setup. That is why consumers are at the very heart of the green deal, which will enable people to save energy and money,’ Mr Barker said.
‘I am pleased that the OFT recognises the efforts we are putting into the green deal to ensure it delivers the best deal for consumers, and I look forward to working with them to see how we can make it even better.’
Gerry Miller, chief executive of the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, said that the organisation was already taking steps to address the points raised by the OFT.