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RCI JULY 2014

INDUSTRY NEWS New Green Deal fund seeks to raise awareness as DECC stats reveal only 25% of its survey group were aware of the scheme Despite a positive start for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF), further evidence released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) suggests that the Green Deal is still struggling to attract attention from homeowners. Low awareness In the recently published Green Deal Household Tracker Survey, conducted amongst a large representative sample of households throughout April, awareness of the Green Deal was shown to be at around a quarter of respondents, marking an approximate increase of just 10% since the launch of the scheme in January 2013. The Energy and Climate Change Committee recently addressed this issue when taking evidence from Greg Barker, minister of state for energy and climate change, who said: “I think part of the slower uptake at the get go of this has been the lack of advertising and marketing of the Green Deal opportunities. We anticipated that the private sector would drive that. “I think because they’ve been slower to come forward with their offers, there’s been less private sector advertising than we anticipated in the early stages.” Despite this claim by the minister, evidence from his own department has shown that of the quarter of respondents who were aware of the Green Deal, the main sources of Green Deal awareness were advertising on television and newspaper or magazine articles. However, at the time of the survey, there had been no Green Deal television advertising, so these responses are most likely referring to mentions of the Green Deal in programmes. Furthermore, fewer than one in ten mentioned either the government (7%) or DECC (3%) as sources of awareness, which was recognised in DECC’s research as “fairly low”. In a separate survey of households that had initiated a Green Deal Assessment in the first quarter of 2014, 48% cited a direct marketing approach, such as telephone calls and leaflets, as a source of awareness – only 14% mentioned advertising or news stories. Stepping up In an attempt to ensure the same problem does not hamper the new incentive scheme, an advertising campaign has been launched to support the GDHIF, which began in June and will continue until later this month, and then run again in autumn. Mr. Barker said: “We really are stepping up to unprecedented levels of rollout of Green Deal messaging around our Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.” The campaign appears to have got off to a strong start, with the news that in its first week there were over 1,700 ...For the latest news delivered straight to your inbox visit www.roofzine.com 06 JULY 2014 RCIMAG.COM applications made to GDHIF, adding up to £2.61m worth of incentives. It is hoped that this attempt to drum up support for the scheme will turn around the fortunes of the Green Deal, with the latest monthly stats showing that while the number of Green Deal Finance Plans is growing, it is still well below expectations. As of the end of May 2014, 2,828 households had Green Deal Plans in progress, marking an increase of 389 since the end of the previous month. At the recent Parliamentary briefing, Greg Barker said: “That’s still very low, and there’s not a real market there. I think this advertising and the GDHIF will be a significant kick to that because although this does include a very attractive bonus – or cashback – it does still leave an element where people will have to make a contribution and Green Deal Finance is there to fill that bridge.” Green Deal Assessments DECC’s most recent figures also show that there were 23,811 Green Deal Assessments in May, once again drawing attention to the great disparity between the number of homes being assessed and those starting a Green Deal Plan. Considering the structure of the Green Deal in offering finance to households willing to have improvements made following an assessment, this difference between the two initial stages has drawn criticism in the past. However, Mr. Barker made it clear to the Energy and Climate Change Committee that he is not concerned by this difference, claiming that any measure that comes as a result of an Assessment is worthy of inclusion under the Green Deal brand. He said: “We’re about installations of measures, and what is interesting is that the most successful part of the Green Deal market is the Green Deal Assessment which have proved very popular. “I do think there has been historically an over-focus of Green Deal Finance Plans as the be all and end all of what Green Deal is about. The Green Deal must be judged on the number of measures that it manages to mobilise. “I think anything that stems from a Green Deal Assessment must be counted as part of the Green Deal market.” Limited offer The government has said that it will review the level of incentives available under the GDHIF once the figure claimed by households reaches £50m, meaning homeowners have a limited time to utilise the fund in its current form. Following the introduction of the new Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, scheme operators for TrustMark are taking action to help roofers comply with the significant changes that now apply to home improvement and repair contracts. The new regulations introduce major changes in the law relating to consumer protection. They now apply to consumer contracts made onpremises (through retail stores), made at a distance (including online sales) and off-premises (e.g. in-home sales). Roofing firms will need to review their processes and if not already compliant, change their paperwork and terms and conditions to ensure they are operating within the new law. Failure to comply may result in prosecution, a fine, or depending on the type of breach, the contract with the homeowner may also be invalid. Liz Male, chairman of TrustMark, said: “These new Consumer Contracts Regulations will really help to clarify contracts for homeowners and tradespeople, so they should be viewed positively. It’s a big step forward to helping both sides enjoy a positive and transparent working relationship. “What matters now is that all TrustMark-registered firms get the detailed guidance they need in order to ensure they are fully compliant. I’m delighted our approved scheme operators in this sector, including the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) are already busy providing this support to their registered firms.” Ray Horwood, chief executive of the NFRC, said: “The purpose of this requirement is to make sure that, should a dispute arise at some point after the contract has been concluded, both parties have a record about what was agreed. But the burden of proof that the relevant information has been provided rests with the tradesperson. That’s why we are helping registered firms understand the new requirements and make appropriate changes in order to avoid the risk of committing a criminal offence and resulting in non payment from a customer.” For information on the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, visit: www.bis.gov.uk www.tradingstandards.gov.uk Roofers offered help with new Regulations Greg Barker addresses the Energy and Climate Change Committee


RCI JULY 2014
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