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February's Green Deal News

A RESPONSE to a recent article that was in the Independent, titled ‘Critics Say Coalition’s Green Deal is No Solution to Curse of Fuel Poverty’.

‘Critics say’. Who are the critics in question?

First is Luciana Berger. She’s the shadow Climate Change Minister, who says that in reality, the Green Deal will cost more than it will save. Well, her job is to slate the Green Deal as least as much as it is Greg Barker’s job to back it, which he does to the hilt. Both are politicians, not energy efficiency experts.

Second is Alan Milstein of the Residential Property Surveyor’s Association. He doesn’t attack the Green Deal, just advises caution: early repayment penalties and a long repayment period could become a factor if you decide to sell your home. Would a buyer want to inherit debt, even if it is coupled with an energy efficient house? The energy efficiency improvements should make the property more attractive to buyers, so it’s likely to come down to the individual.

Alan Milstein advises looking at a number of routes to finance, to find the most appropriate deal. This is sensible advice, similar to Ann Robinson’s of USwitch, the company that finds people their best priced energy providers. You can see exactly what she says in this video.

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Her advice is to look at the facts. Seek three independent assessments and go with the best deal. If you can find a better interest rate than the Green Deal’s, she says why not take it? If you can’t, the Green Deal remains an option.

Third and final commentator in the article is Michelle Mitchell, of AgeUK. She warns that 300,000 homes slipped into the fuel poverty bracket in the last month alone. I will explain what fuel poverty is in a moment. MM’s concern is the government’s meagre forecast that 150,000 to 250,000 homes will be lifted from fuel poverty by 2023. If more than that number are being impoverished every month, it’s an impossible race.

Remind me… What is the Green Deal again?

We know this! It’s a method of applying for a finance plan that lets you upgrade your home to the tune of ten thousand pounds, and pay it back in small amounts tacked onto your fuel bill, which will have been reduced as a consequence of the upgrades. There are forty six measures available on the Green Deal. The main ones are: insulation, boilers, and double glazing.

The ‘Curse of Fuel Poverty’ – what is fuel poverty, exactly?

The definition is mathematical. Professor John Hill at the London School of Economics carried out the extensive Hill’s Report in mid-2012. Here he redefines fuel poverty. It used to refer to people who spent more than 10% of their annual salary on energy. Now it refers to people whose fuel costs are above the national average, and who end up below the national poverty line once that is subtracted from their salary.

The national poverty line, I believe, refers to people living on less than 60% of the national average. So fuel poverty can be inflicted upon people by energy companies. It’s the unsustainable pricing of energy that drives poverty.

The targets set for the Green Deal refer to carbon emissions, because the government has set itself lofty targets of a 50% reduction by 2020.

The last thing to mention is about energy efficiency itself. The value of having a home that doesn’t leak heat is not in question. Michelle Mitchell says, “The price of energy will continue to rise for the foreseeable future, so effectively insulating our homes against heat loss is the only way to help consumers to pay their bills and stay warm”.

The Independent article in question can be read here.