Here we are, five months into the Government's much-lauded Green Deal, and yesterday the DECC revealed its first monthly progress report on the scheme. Although Greg Barker MP made a sterling effort of spinning the results to look encouraging and positive, I would imagine the embarrassingly diminutive numbers were actually somewhat difficult to admit to.
The long and the short of it is this: the Green Deal has so far been a resounding failure. Of the 38,000+ households that have completed GD assessments, a fractional 241 have expressed a desire to move forward within the initiative's framework. To put this in perspective, consider that if each and every one did so, the resulting conversion rate would still be less than 1%, which looks still worse in light of the fact that only four households have gone on to sign contracts and commit themselves to the scheme.
DECC have understandably chosen to focus much of their attention on the rising number of assessments taking place, although as the figures evince, this is very little indication of progress. An emerging theme seems to place the Deal as little more than an extremely low-key advertising campaign, encouraging those already in a position to do so to take advantage of the benefits brought by a more sustainable home without the need for its dedicated finance plan. Whilst it is good news that some people are starting to realise the importance of these measures, the point of the initiative is completely negated if it doesn't reach those most in need of financial assistance.
Originally, the crux of the Deal's ambition was formed on an offering that promised to bring up to standard the homes of those otherwise unable to do so. The finance plan, secured against the home and paid off through energy savings created by the new installations, was its central selling point, and was intended to make the process a blindingly compelling one. Instead, with this point lost in the mires of bureaucracy, Greg Barker now seems content that 'what's more impressive is that more than 5,000 people think this is so compelling that they have decided to do it themselves'. He's sadly mistaken; our aging housing stock needs to be rescued, a fact cemented by the UKGBC's statement that retrofit needs to take place at a rate of one house per minute between now and 2050 if we're to meet our legally binding carbon targets. That's a frightening number, and when paired with the above statistics, it looks like we're in for a rough ride.
I don't want to be a broken record on this subject, but it remains clear that without well-considered steps to reach those for whom this policy was originally introduced, the Green Deal will remain as disappointing as its current levels of take up.