Arguably it's not so much "if you snooze, you lose" in respect of some of these changes - as the longer you wait, the better the deal might become. Of course that's a generalisation, but the competition among the various political parties to demonstrate their concern for the plight of energy users (both domestic and business) appears, at least in the short term, to have the potential to benefit some occupiers.
Green Deal changes
On 2 December the Government announced that from January 2014 they would be introducing changes designed to make the green deal easier for those involved with it on all sides. These changes are to include:-
- Opening up access to energy performance certificate (EPC) data so that companies offering green deal finance and works can more easily identify (for which read "target") properties that might benefit from energy efficiency improvements.
- Adding more categories of work that will qualify for green deal finance. Presumably this is in order to try to increase take up.
- Finally, the Government will look again at how the "Golden Rule" operates. This is the overriding provision that only allows works to qualify for green deal finance if the estimated cost of the works will not exceed the anticipated energy savings. This review will consider whether adjustments would "make sense for consumers". It's not clear what this means but it might result in a lowering of the bar to a degree, so that more properties will qualify.
As the uptake of green deal finance to date has been quite low, it is possible that the Government are as concerned with trying to breathe life into something in which few have shown interest as they are with looking for ways in which consumers can economically improve the energy efficiency of their properties.
Other changes announced yesterday
Other proposals were also announcement yesterday, and these included:-
- Up to £4000 may be available to anyone who moves home - to fund energy efficiency improvements to their new house. It is described as a stamp duty rebate (but is also apparently to be available even if no SDLT is payable on the purchase). The normal amount will be around £1000 but it could be up to £4000 for particularly expensive measures. The note says that this will be available for 3 years - but does not say when that period would start.
- A scheme to support private landlords (which looks to be landlords of domestic property) in improving the energy efficiency of their properties - to apply to about 15,000 of the least energy efficient rental properties each year for three years.
- Finally, an announcement regarding expanding green deal finance to help landlords of property that will be affected by the letting prohibition being brought in (under the Energy Act 2011) for properties in England from 1 April 2018. The current intention is to prohibit the letting of property that is EPC rated F or G, until certain energy efficiency improvement works have been carried out. The note says that the Government will make funding available through the green deal specifically to help the landlords of such properties to bring them up to the minimum standard. It's not yet clear whether this will apply to property in Scotland - as this letting prohibition is not certain to be imposed in Scotland. The 2011 Act gives the Scottish Government the power to introduce it at any time from 1 April 2015 onwards, but there is no obligation on them to do so.
It is not clear from the announcement whether any of the above three changes will apply to Scotland. Hopefully more detail and clarity will be provided shortly.