TSI says Green Deal Bill needs strengthening
Trading Standards Institute (TSI) has expressed concern about the Government proposals for the ‘Green Deal’ which is due to be implemented in autumn 2012.
The Energy Bill is a vehicle for the Government to meet challenging carbon emission targets with the installation of ‘Green Deal’ measures into consumers’ homes, but TSI believes that, although the principles and intentions are good, the Bill needs strengthening. TSI is therefore calling for the Government to take further steps to ensure a high level of consumer protection.
The aim of the ‘Green Deal’ is that, by installing certain measures into consumers’ homes (such as insulation, new boilers etc), carbon emissions will be reduced and consumers will save money on their monthly energy bills. However, TSI is concerned that unscrupulous energy advisors may over-emphasise the potential savings in order to sell their products, and that the cost of installation (and the required maintenance and servicing) might substantially exceed the projected savings.
The current proposal in the ‘Green Deal’ is that the expected financial savings for consumers after installation of the ‘Green Deal’ measures should be equal to or greater than the cost of the installation, which will be added to the consumers’ energy bills for the next 10 to 25 years. This debt will need to be repaid by the consumer and, potentially, by any subsequent owner of the property.
TSI expects that the ‘Green Deal’ energy advisers will be selling on a part, or full commission basis, which could tempt them to overstate the expected savings. The recommended measures would then appear affordable and desirable to the consumer, allowing the adviser to secure a sale. Consumers will be financially disadvantaged when the savings fail to fully materialise.
To reduce such risks, TSI believes that the ‘Green Deal’ energy advisers must not be linked to the ‘Green Deal’ installers but should be completely independent. If this additional level of protection is not put into place, there is a clear incentive for the advisers to recommend unnecessary work.
TSI is aware of many occasions where sales representatives from a wide range of businesses, including some of the major energy suppliers, have made false and misleading statements in order to secure a contract and therefore a commission. It is very likely that the ‘Green Deal’ will attract the same problems due to the massive investment there will be in the scheme. It is therefore vital that a robust system of control and enforcement is implemented.
TSI has long campaigned against the selling of energy on the doorstep, and believes that consumers should not be visited by cold calling doorstep traders if they don’t want them. TSI would therefore like to see a provision in the legislation that ‘Green Deal’ traders will respect local authority ‘No Cold Calling Zones’ and any individual door stickers, which is in line with the code of practice issued by the Energy Retailers Association.
Steve Playle , the TSI Spokesperson on the ‘Green Deal’ said: 'There will be billions of pounds invested in the ‘Green Deal’ and it is therefore vital that consumer protection safeguards are in place from the very beginning. I have a very real fear that the energy savings promised to householders after the installation of ‘Green Deal’ measures will fail to materialise. This will leave consumers with the burden of additional debts in these difficult economic times.'
He added: 'Trading Standards have a valuable role to play in ensuring the “Green Deal” is effective and that consumers are protected, and we will be doing everything possible to make sure our voice is heard at Government level.'
Trading standards officers have tools available to them to investigate allegations of mis-selling (via the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, and the Fraud Act 2006); however TSI believes that there should be a robust enforcement mechanism within the legislation itself, together with a compensation scheme for out-of-pocket consumers. In its current form the ‘Green Deal’ relies heavily on self-regulation as opposed to what TSI would like to see - a formalised system with clear penalties for those who breach the rules and an easy to use and funded redress mechanism.
Notes for Editors:
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Steve Playle the TSI spokesperson on the ‘Green Deal’ on 07968 834647 or Lizi Piggins at the TSI Press Office on 0845 6089430 or email@example.com
The Energy Bill is available at:
http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/energyhl.html with information on the ‘Green Deal’ available at:
TSI’s full submission to Government on the ‘Green Deal’ can be found at: http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/policy/policy-consitem.cfm/newsid/685
Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.
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