Will Green Deal Code protect Green Deal Scheme Consumers

In readiness for the launch of the much anticipated Green Deal, the Government’s flagship environmental project aimed at making up to 14 million homes more energy efficient through loans to home owners for the purchase of energy saving improvements to the properties, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is busy drafting a Code of Practice, aimed at ensuring a proper level of protection for consumers.

The code will apply to all those involved in the Green Deal process, that is assessors, installers and providers. Although the full code of practice has yet to be published, the basic framework has been set out.

The Aim of the Green Deal Code

In order to encourage maximum take up of the Green Deal, consumers will have to have reason to be confident that their investment is safe. The Green Deal Code aims to ensure protection for not just the original improver at the time of the improvement, but any subsequent home owners (who will take over the payments) for the life of the Green Deal plan, which could be anything up to 25 years.

The intention is to allow the industry to set its own standards, which will be monitored and accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). The code will aim to ensure that only properly accredited providers, assessors and installers are allowed to be part of the Green Deal thus minimising the risk of complaints and will provide a means of redress should things go wrong.

Regulation Providers, Assessors and Installers

Assessors and Installers will need to be members of an existing accredited body within their area of the industry in order to take part in the Green Deal Scheme. That body will need to set robust standards which will be monitored by UKAS for suitability and adherence. It will be in the interest of all of the members to ensure that standards are properly maintained.

Green Deal providers will be subject to the Green Deal Code, which will require them to:

  • provide a statement of expected energy bill savings, based on the assessment, showing how these should be sufficient for the customer to meet the Plan instalments;
  • only offer a Green Deal Plan to pay for energy saving measures recommended by an accredited Assessor, using an objective method;
  • only use Green Deal certified Assessors and Installers, certified by Green Deal accredited trade bodies.

In addition, as the providers will be offering financial products in the form of a Green Deal finance package, they will be required to hold a Consumer Credit Act (CCA) Licence and be regulated by the Financial Services Authority. This will act as a protection against mis-selling, give the consumer the right to a “cooling off period” after signing up to a plan and offer additional redress through the FSA. The code will set out which financial terms are permissible under the Green Deal.

Finally, providers will need to offer a guarantee for the lifetime of the plan backed by professional indemnity insurance.

The Green Deal Advice Line

As part of the Green Deal Code, a Green Deal Advice Line is to be set up. This advice line will provide consumers with information about all of the aspects of the Green Deal and impartial referral to assessors, installers and providers. It will also provide assistance to consumers when things go wrong. It will provide details of the obligations of the providers and the protections which are in place and will capture basic details to allow a referral to the appropriate ombudsman or accredited body in order that they can follow through on the complaint.

All of the professionals operating under the scheme will be obliged to make their customers aware of the Green Deal Advice Line and will be obliged to cooperate fully with any investigation including the sharing of information where appropriate, to enable a complaint to be satisfactorily dealt with.

www.GreenDeal-Providers.co.uk provides further detailed information on the Green Deal Scheme.

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