Energy Bill and the Big Society: A battle to come?

 

There's an interesting micro-battle brewing over the Energy Bill. The Bill's a worthy measure allowing people to make energy-saving improvements to their homes - new boilers, better insulation etc - and pay for it out of the resulting savings to their gas and electricity bills. It is what ministers have branded as "the Green Deal".

But in the detailed Committee Stage consideration last week, Luciana Berger (a Co-operative MP and Labour frontbencher) put down a series of amendments designed to help cooperatives and mutual societies offering insulation and other improvements to become players in the market, including reduced registration fees for non-profit organisations. She and other MPs argued that the idea is very much in the spirit of the Big Society to help small business and social enterprises and that there was a danger of the market for Green Deal energy improvements being dominated by a few corporate big boys.

As she put it: "Concern has been expressed by several organisations, including the Builders Merchants Federation, that the green deal as it stands relies too heavily on big corporate names and favours vertically integrated businesses that will dominate the marketplace from the outset with a one-stop-shop approach. Retailers and the energy companies dominating the marketplace could jeopardise the green deal's likelihood of success for two reasons: first, it would drive down competition and increase prices for customers; secondly, the suppliers that are least trusted by consumers would be the main drivers of the scheme."

The minister, Greg Barker, was not convinced and the proposal was voted down - but I wouldn't be too startled if the idea resurfaced when the Bill returns to the full House of Commons for its Report and Third Reading stages, not least because Labour think the Coalition is voting against its own Big Society philosophy and they'd quite like to force them to do so again.

 
Mark D'Arcy, Parliamentary correspondent Article written by Mark D'Arcy Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    Green Deal has the potential to revolutionise the UK energy market, significantly reducing energy demand, powering growth and delivering much needed resources to local communities. However, co-operatives and social enterprises need to be involved to prevent the vast majority of work going to the big energy companies and ensure resources and funding is retained locally.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    I favor the Green Deal = energy saving plan to transform the country’s homes, make warmer & cheaper to run. £10,000 upfront to pay for energy efficiency work: things like insulation, upgraded furnaces, good windows. Similar support for businesses & extra help for vulnerable people or those living in homes which need more work than Green Deal finance alone.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    We've had various Green Deals in Canada; they work exceedingly well, and companies are still competitive; I mean how many companies can compete to install insulated windows or more efficient furnace?
    What's more (in Canada) there is pre-home inspection & post-home inspection to make sure that efficiencies have indeed been upgraded with quality workmanship.






  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    There is no way that this is going to take off. Most homes are full of people and furniture, to make a decent job of insulating a home to level 6, requires moving out, putting your home in store and living in a hotel.
    The overall cost and inconvenience, and the small savings will mean this will be done by a few people who have just bought a new home and can do the work before moving in.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1.

    Yes, the 'Co-op' is right on this, why should DIYers be forced to pick a big expensive contractor to do something they'd much rather do themselves, more cheaply and using local suppliers. It's like saying conservatories can only be supplied by the likes of Everest and Anglian, with no room for local builders. More power to their elbow I say.

 
 

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