The government has today confirmed that whilst over 38,000 people have had assessments and 241 are in the system, the stark reality is that only four households (out of 24m) have signed up to its flagship Green Deal energy efficiency scheme, despite the fact it has been in operation for five months.
The slow start was this morning blamed on software and legal issues, which have delayed the launch of Green Deal services from many of the energy and retail companies that were expected to help drive adoption of Green Deal packages.
The low level of take-up for the scheme will inevitably spark fierce criticism from Labour and some industry groups, which have long argued that additional incentives and lower interest rates are needed to make the scheme more attractive to large numbers of households. But clearly the upfront assessment costs, the confused bureaucracy of the scheme and the tie in implications are also major barriers.
Oddly though, the government has to date resisted calls for the introduction of additional incentives and argued that the figures show interest in the scheme is increasing rapidly.
Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the scheme was making good progress. "A huge 38k Green Deal Assessments already completed, 1000's customers opting to self pay but next stage all about unleashing GD Finance."
But what is going on ?
38,259 Green Deal assessments have been undertaken, while 5,118 cash back vouchers have been issued, suggesting thousands of people are motivated to improve their homes and save energy costs and are acting on the recommendations of the assessments but instead have paid for the improvements themselves rather than taken out a Green Deal financing packages. Under the rules of the scheme, households can still access the government's cash back incentives even if they do not take out a Green Deal finance package.
Significantly, the number of cash back vouchers issued increased nearly five-fold in June, providing some evidence that the market is picking up.
It appears the delivery system is flawed - not the concept that delivering efficiency measures to save energy and money are a good idea, which of course it does. So I guess this inspires me to think we had best push on and sort these problems out as individuals and hopefully workable schemes will catch up with the public need.