In February this year the Government launched a consultation on proposals making it compulsory for anyone undertaking large renovation work on their home to also carry out ‘consequential measures’, appropriate energy efficiency measures similar in scale to the original work.
The renovation work requiring consequential measures was proposed to include extensions, loft conversions, and boiler and window replacement. Homeowners would have to spend at least 10% of the cost of the original work on the measures, but the measures would have to be economically worthwhile and the funding could come from a Green Deal loan or a grant from ECO, the Energy Company Obligation.
The proposals didn’t seem excessive by any standards, but last week Communities Secretary Eric Pickles confirmed that the plans had been shelved, citing negative public opinion. A study by the Energy Saving Trust sought homeowner opinion on the proposals– many had concerns, namely worries about being out of pocket and objections to being compelled to carry out works. However, 63% surveyed thought the plans were reasonable, with this jumping to 76% when the Green Deal was offered as a funding option.
The plans have been blighted not by public opinion but by media coverage and political treatment of the facts. The Daily Mail ran several articles attacking the proposals, dubbing them the ‘conservatory tax’, and Pickles cited the 30% of EST respondents not in favour of the plans as a reason to shelve them in a move that does seem to mean that the plans are gone once and for all. It’s a great shame.
The reason that the 24% of people aren’t in favour of the plans may largely be lack of understanding about the Green Deal’s ability to fund the improvements. It’s a scheme that’s very different to anything we’ve had before, and the logic of it is something many people find confusing. Overwhelmingly the study showed a lack of awareness about just how much money householders could save on bills if they self-funded the improvements – maybe this should be the communication focus rather than the Green Deal as it’s much easier to understand the benefits associated with it. Solutions such as solid wall insulation and gas central heating can each save households several hundreds of pounds a year.
While people are no longer going to be obliged to carryout these measures whenever they are adding extensions and conservatories, it still is the more cost effective time to “green” your home. This means that the pay back for a little extra spend is much quicker and could quickly start to contribute to the cost of your conservatory in a couple of years. Find out which green ideas might work with your extension project using our free assessment tool.
Some of the building industry’s leading voices today submitted an open letter to Chancellor George Osborne calling for a renewal of commitment to ‘greening’ the U.K.’s housing stock, among them a call for the ‘Consequential Measures’ policy to be reinstated.
In the letter, the group, among them the Chartered Institute of Building, British Property Federation, Home Builders Federation, and Green Building Council, stated that progress so far has caused the UK the be known as a leader in renewables retrofit innovation, and that there is massive potential for ‘green growth’ in the sector. Whether the Chancellor listens to the group remains to be seen – the letter can be found here.