The implementation of the Green Deal improvement scheme in the UK offered a major opportunity to increase the energy efficiency of households, reduce carbon emissions and alleviate fuel poverty. The complexity of the programme and the private sector delivery model raised concerns that that it would not reach some of the groups most at risk of fuel poverty. The different types of local council bodies in the UK, (Parish, Town and Community), have the potential to offer significant support to increase the accessibility of such schemes. They have good knowledge of their local areas, wide networks of contacts and are a recognised institution. In addition, many continue to be involved in promoting energy advice and efficiency measures. Despite this, their part in the roll out of the Green Deal remains unclear.
Key research Question
The study had two main objectives: (1) to understand the views of Local Councils on the Green Deal, (particularly any concerns) and (2) to examine what role they might play in the implementation of the programme, including ensuring support reached the most vulnerable.
Summary of activity
Two workshops were conducted with representatives of Local Councils in England and Scotland, plus a further workshop with stakeholders considering the equality of opportunity and access the Green Deal would offer. Findings from the workshops fed into the development of an online survey completed by a small number of local authorities in the UK.
The evidence gathered from Local Councils indicated a general concern that certain groups could miss out on the benefits of Green Deal. Areas with high levels of fuel poverty may not appeal to private sector Green Deal providers, while a range of communities may not engage with the programme, for reasons such as language barriers, medical condition, and geographical isolation.
The research indicated that some Local Councils were already working on energy efficiency projects. However, time and money formed formidable barriers to undertaking more work. Many stakeholders had only limited information on the Green Deal programme and wanted to ensure it would deliver real benefits. Nevertheless, there was potential for Local Councils to play a key role in information provision, targeting work at those most in need and acting as exemplars by taking up the opportunities themselves.
The resource ‘Community Action for Affordable Warmth’ Toolkit aimed at Local Councils and Community Groups was produced by the authors of the report.