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Govt warned over Green Deal mis-selling

Worcester Bosch has warned the Government that commission-based assessors might be tempted to mis-sell Green Deal finance packages.

The warning is contained in the company’s Green Deal consultation submission which was handed into the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) just before the 18th January 2012 deadline.

In its submission, Worcester, Bosch Group, voiced fears about mis-selling and the independence of assessors, particularly those with ties to retailers.

Neil Schofield, Head of Government and External Affairs for Worcester, Bosch Group, says the potential for mis-selling is a real concern across the industry.

“There are growing fears that assessment is the potential weak link in the Green Deal.  We don’t want to be in a situation where homeowners are taking out Green Deal finance packages expecting a £50 monthly reduction in their heating bills to cover their loan, but are ultimately only saving £30, leaving them £20 out of pocket.”

Mr Schofield said the issue of assessor independence is critical.  “We can envisage a situation where homeowners are offered vouchers and other deals by assessors as an inducement to sign up for a Green Deal finance package.”

“We have concerns over the potential effect of commission derived from product or technology choice on the independence of the assessor, along with any ties he or she has with a particular provider.”

“Unless the customer pays the full cost of the assessment upfront there will always be the risk that organisations will subsidise the assessment cost in order to influence the assessment.  In this area the credibility of the Green Deal is potentially at stake.”

Worcester has also raised concern about the quality of the assessors and their ability to access specialist support when required.

Mr Schofield said: ““We are already hearing anecdotal evidence of homeowners being advised to install cavity wall insulation on unsuitable properties.”

“Our view is that Government needs to concentrate on regulating the quality of the assessment work.  A standard assessment will be satisfactory in most cases but it is critical that the assessor is able to access specialist technical support if it is required.”

Mr Schofield also believes that installers must play a central role in the implementation of the scheme.

“If the Green Deal is just about the big six utilities and the big high street retailers then the installer will be marginalised from the process.”

“Homeowners still go to their installer for advice on heating their home, not utility companies, not heating manufacturers and certainly not retailers.  If this is going to work then we need installers to be championing the Green Deal not relegated to the sidelines.”