How should social landlords respond to the Green Deal?
There is a useful summary from Sustainable Homes. Social Landlords have three main options:
- To be a Green Deal Provider. This would involve accessing funding to support the upfront works, assessing and submitting an Occupancy Assessment, installing the works, and finally receiving the repayments. Green Deal Providers will need to abide by the Green Deal Code of Practice, sign the Green Deal Arrangements Agreement and be able to be a loan provider. The advantages include the ability of social landlords to borrow money comparatively cheaply, knowing the customer base and having a vested interest in the work be carried out well. It also could be a source of income and offer tenants employment. There are risks though in ensuring the repayments meet the requirements of the lender. Social landlords that have a track record in other social enterprise may be better placed to take up this opportunity.
- To be a Green Deal Partner. This would see a social landlord carry out some of the tasks involved in the Green Deal but not all of them. This would probably include assessing and/or installing. For assessing there would need to be Green Deal Advisors (the current Domestic Energy Advisors would need to be retrained). For installing the landlord would need to accredited and abide by a Code of Practice. This has the advantage of the landlord ensuring that there is some income, control over work carried out and reducing the risk. The downside is that there still may be lack of take up and other Green Deal providers may also offer free assessments.
- To not be part of any Green Deal provision. This would see social landlords focus on communications with tenants and ensure that it kept up to speed with any works that did take place under the Green Deal. There is the possibility that landlords may offer Green Deal providers the opportunity to ‘bid’ for preferred status and work closely with that provider through marketing and communication. The advantages are mainly about reducing financial exposure and not having to do very much. The disadvantages are mostly around missing out on the opportunity for income and being less in control of works that take place.
What else might landlords do?
Research has shown that behavioural change can be the most cost effective approach of all in reducing fuel bills. Simple approaches around turning down thermostats, using draft excluders and correct usage of heaters can significantly reduce bills. Even with the Green Deal in place simple advice maximises the savings from Green Deal.
Landlords also have to consent to any work that takes place under Green Deal and can ask for this to be deferred if similar work is planned by the landlord in the near future. It is likely that landlords will also want to monitor the Green Deal being undertaken through their stock management arrangements.
So what does the HCA say?
The Green Deal is not covered by regulation although Registered Providers are gently reminded about the need to cover Value for Money and Financial Viability in anything they do and that Boards/Councillors are responsible for the impact of Green Deal on their strategic objectives.
The co-regulation approach mentioned by the HCA also allows for tenants to have opportunities to shape services and hold the landlord to account, most obviously through Scrutiny Panels.
Author: Phil Morgan