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BLOG: Green Deal – another opportunity for cowboy providers?

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28/01/2013
Joanna Faith on why the Government's new energy efficiency initiative could be an open invitation to con artists.
BLOG: Green Deal – another opportunity for cowboy providers?

This week saw the launch of the Government’s Green Deal scheme which ministers claim will reduce household bills while making homes more energy efficient.

People will be offered special long-term loans to spend on energy-saving improvements, such as insulation and new boilers, with no upfront cost. Instead they will pay for some or all of the improvements over time through their electricity bill.

Consumers will need to have an assessment from an approved Green Deal installer, such as an energy company or DIY store.

While the scheme is a positive step, critics have been quick to highlight the flaws.

Friends of the Earth has pointed out the interest rate on loans is bound to undermine the Green Deal’s appeal to cash-strapped households, while the fact the loan is attached to the house not the homeowner has been cited as a potential obstacle when people come to sell their homes.

However, a bigger problem for consumers may be lying in wait.

Some well-known brands are getting behind the scheme, which is good news. B&Q is just one of the retailers confirmed as a Green Deal provider.

However, as with many money-saving schemes, this initiative could invite a new wave of unscrupulous ‘providers’.

While a new ‘Green Deal Approved’ quality mark to ensure individuals and products have been accredited has been introduced, and a Green Deal Ombudsman to ensure households are protected from cowboy installers has been set up, will this really be enough to stop immoral cold callers intent on exploiting consumers?

Just look at the recent PPI scandal. There are plenty of genuine – and legal – routes for people to reclaim mis-sold payment protection insurance. Yet consumers are still being scammed by dodgy ‘companies’.

This year, the Office of Fair Trading has already blasted companies in the energy efficiency space for pressure sales and poor work.

Which? has said it will be watching out for dishonest Green Deal practices by undertaking mystery shopping.

With Green Deal assessments costing anything between £80 and £120 or more, the Government must make sure the unintended consequence of this decentralised scheme is not yet another financial scam.

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