INDUSTRY NEWS Green Deal enjoys “reasonable growth” says DECC, despite being outperformed by ECO measures and GD Assessments The latest government figures show the number of Green Deal Plans in progress increased by 20% in April, representing “reasonable growth” in the scheme, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The most recent monthly report showed that 2,439 Green Deal plans are now active, up from the 2,000 registered between the beginning of the initiative and the end of March. Of this number 1,178 were ‘live’, meaning that all energy efficiency measures were installed. While DECC says that the figures suggest that the Green Deal is building momentum following a period of relatively low activity, the latest report also shows that just over 22,000 Green Deal Assessments took place in April, taking the total since the beginning of the initiative to 210,239. Whilst this is the second highest number lodged in any month to date, it is a 12% reduction on March’s total (25,138), and also shows that the vast majority of those undertaking Assessments are still not continuing with the next step of the government scheme. In addition to the Green Deal, provisional Energy Company Obligation (ECO) figures up to the end of March 2014 showed that the scheme is still out-performing its counterpart, with 95,384 measures installed in March alone. This was the highest number installed in any month, and 25% higher than the number installed in February. DECC claims that this increase could be explained by the incentive for energy companies to deliver Carbon Saving Target (CERO) measures by the end of March 2014 in order to benefit from the proposed levelisation, which would provide an uplift to CERO carbon scoring. Of all the measures installed Help to Buy success continues but concerns for future grow 08 JUNE 2014 RCIMAG.COM under ECO, 43% were delivered through the Carbon Saving Target (CERO), 16% through Carbon Saving Communities (CSCO) and 41% through Affordable Warmth (HHCRO). In total, 776,369 measures were installed under ECO up to the end of March 2014, with 36% providing cavity wall insulation; 21% delivering loft insulation; and only approximately 7% covering solid wall insulation. The government’s handling of both schemes has faced criticism in recent months; the Green Deal for not building up support from the public, and ECO for being slashed to put less pressure on energy companies. The recent announcement of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, to be launched in June, is aimed at simplifying the scheme and attracting more interest. It is also believed that this will help to offset the reduced targets of ECO. Roofers are the happiest tradesmen The results of a new study has concluded that following a boost in consumer confidence and work levels, roofers are the happiest members of any trade. The research, commissioned by specialist construction insurer ECIC, questioned 200 tradespeople across all trades including about their attitudes to pay and conditions, business pressures and health issues. Over a third of roofers saw the amount of work available go up in 2013, with nearly half (43%) feeling very confident about their business prospects for 2014 compared to just 11% of painter and decorators. Correspondingly, working hours in general went up in 2013, with nearly half of those questioned working more than 46 hours a week. The roofing industry was also found to be the healthiest sector, with only 4% of respondents saying they suffered an accident or ill health that lasted more than two weeks in 2013, and less than a quarter suffering from fatigue or stress. Phil Scarrett, sales and marketing director for ECIC, said: “Business is looking good for roofers – there seems to be no shortage of work and given the physically demanding nature and risks of the job, they appear to be looking after their health.” The survey also found that a large majority (89%) would actively encourage a younger person to join the industry. The trade least likely to encourage someone to take up their business were plasterers, with nearly half (43%) saying they wouldn’t recommend it. Despite the positive image of roofing portrayed by the research, it also suggests that very few roofers are exploring business opportunities from the government’s Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) and Green Deal schemes, with over 80% saying they are not looking at opportunities in this area at all. Mr. Scarrett commented: “They (roofers) need to investigate how they can seek accreditation under the ECO and Green Deal schemes to take advantage of these new routes to business. With only one in five currently looking at these opportunities, many roofers risk being left out in the cold.” www.ecic.co.uk New figures have shown that the majority of homes bought through the Help to Buy scheme have been new-build properties, confirming the widely held view that the scheme has boosted the house-building sector, despite concerns that construction is becoming too reliant on housing as a result. The new stats from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that in total, 27,861 households have been helped by the scheme, with 74% of the homes bought being newly built. Private house-building is up a total of 34% since the launch of Help to Buy, with the latest construction PMI survey from Markit showing the strongest period of continuous house-building growth for 14 years. New figures from the National House-Building Council (NHBC) have supported these findings, with the number of new home registrations recorded in the rolling quarter February to April 2014 (34,239) marking a 3% increase on the same three month period last year (33,111). Commenting on the policy, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Help to Buy has helped thousands of hardworking people to buy a new home and crucially it is helping to increase the number of new homes being built around the country. “It is an important part of our longterm plan to back those who want to get on and to secure a better future for Britain.” The scheme has gained support from numerous figures within the construction industry, such as Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation (HBF), who said: “After a number of years when house-building levels fell to a record low level, all indicators show supply is now increasing rapidly. “The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme is supporting demand for new build homes – and if buyers can buy, builders can build. “This is providing desperately needed homes and also creating tens of thousands of jobs on sites across the country and in the supply chain.” Similarly, Pete Redfern, CEO of Taylor Wimpey, said: “The Help to Buy Equity Loan enables us to build more homes on the sites we have already got open, and has given us more confidence to invest in future sites and infrastructure which creates more jobs and economic activity locally.” The success of house-building in recent months has led to concern for some, with a recent report from Barbour ABI claiming that residential construction had the highest proportion of contracts awarded by value in April, with 33% of the UK total. Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “While the continued recovery is noticeable and welcome, analysing individual sectors within the industry provides a note of caution. Private housing continues to drive resurgence in the construction industry, boosted by government initiatives such as Help to Buy. However, there are concerns that too much of this growth is concentrated within the housing sector, and an upturn in other key sectors – particularly private commercial and infrastructure – is vital for a stronger and more durable recovery. The Economic & Construction Market Review suggested that the total value of all new construction contracts awarded in April fell by 1.8% compared to the month before, with the number of projects also 6.6% lower than March. The review suggests that the construction industry is becoming too reliant on the housing sector, which will be unable to sustain the growth of the wider industry.
RCI June 2014
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