Energy secretary Ed Davey has said the Green Deal scheme will open in stages, but he envisages an announcement “relatively shortly”.
Responding to concerns that the government is yet to conduct any promotion of the scheme, Davey said they would “wait until the scheme was underway” before finalising a national communication plan.
Davey was speaking at a fringe meeting at Lib Dem conference, organised by Dods’ Green Deal Dialogue, made up of Land Securities, The Glass and Glazing Federation and Velux.
The energy secretary denied that the scheme was too complex, calling it “relatively simple for the consumer”.
However he admitted that it could carry potential problems for small companies.
Introducing competition into the market, would be a challenge, Davey affirmed as it could potentially be dominated by existing “big players”.
Liberal Democrat MP for Norwich South, Simon Wright reiterated Davey’s concern that small businesses could be squeezed out by large firms or deterred by the complexity and bureaucracy of the scheme.
Davey said the government is particularly keen to reduce the barriers to entry for new, smaller firms and thought local authorities and partnerships between big and small companies could help in this process.
Chairing the event, The Guardian’s head of environment, Damian Carrington, said the Green Deal has the potential to be the “greatest transformation of our buildings and homes” in the UK’s history.
Yet, deputy chief executive and director of technical affairs at the Glass and Glazing Federation, Giles Willson expressed concern as to the likely uptake of the scheme amongst the private sector.
He predicted that the policy would work well in relation to housing associations and local authorities, who could use the green deal to improve housing stocks.
Velux design manager Paul Hicks expressed concern that householders would have to repay the loan at a higher cost than the energy bill savings they will enjoy from green works.
He worried that if the scheme failed to deliver the projected savings it would be a “kick in the teeth for renewable energies generally”.
Davey denied that the interest rates of six to eight per cent on loans could put off consumers and said that the rates would be competitive.