Green deal providers must not repeat the mistakes made with decent homes
Let’s get it right
Green deal fever has gripped the sector. Every day I read about new guidance for providers, suppliers and residents on how to benefit. As the market expands this is to be expected, but I’d like more debate on detail. Exactly how will providers ensure that the cost of works doesn’t exceed the savings?
The golden rule - that savings to energy bills must outweigh or be equal to costs attached to green deal measures - was never going to be easy to crack but look to the past and you’ll find solutions, particularly around procurement. Landlords must learn from the mistakes made during the decent homes programme.
One such lesson is leaseholder consultation. Some decent homes projects were cancelled due to legal challenges from leaseholders when key works were procured. Landlords now have a better understanding of leaseholder rights. This time around leaseholder engagement must happen at the start of the process.
The same goes for tenant consultation. With decent homes, landlord command and control didn’t work. When providers engaged with residents, default rates and project times reduced. Today, landlords must continue with tenant liaison to maximise both uptake of green deal works and bill reductions.
Problems arose 10 years ago when some improvements weren’t co-ordinated with wider maintenance and capital works. For green deal, local synchronisation will result in lower supply and installation costs and less disruption for tenants.
Decent homes also demonstrated the importance of not underestimating the true cost of works. Providers must factor in supply chain costs, ongoing repairs and inflation as well as capital costs.
Landlords learnt a huge amount from decent homes. This knowledge must be applied today.
Steve Malone is managing director of Procurement for Housing