FIVE years ago, the Green Deal was launched to great fanfare by the Tory Government with the promise of a win-win situation for homeowners: lower energy bills and the chance to do their bit for the environment. If it seemed too good to be true it has turned out to be so. Dozens of my constituents signed up to install Green Deal-financed improvements to their homes such as solar panels and insulated cladding but this has proved to be one of the worst decisions they made. Instead of realising the vision of a flagship programme to reduce fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency, a failure to regulate the scheme allowed it to be exploited. People thought, as the scheme was approved and accredited by the Government, they could trust its credentials and sign up. In 2015 a constituent handed over her life savings t o a Cambuslang-based Green Deal provider, Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Systems (HELMS) to put external wall insulation on her timber-framed house. Another, an elderly lady, has been left with £17,000 worth of debt after signing up with HELMS, with no sign of redress. They are among many left in limbo by HELMS. The company is believed to have carried out similar work on more than160 properties locally without obtaining the necessary building warrants while promising free solar panels and cavity wall insulation to save thousands of pounds. Normally this would be easily remedied with a retrospective application for a warrant from Glasgow City Council but, because building standards were not adhered to by HELMS, no backdated planning permission can be granted without costly surveys. In addition, the statutory fee for a building warrant will be tripled where works have already been completed. Residents do not have the financial resources to fund this and, in the absen ce of building warrants, the houses are uninsurable and unsellable. Residents feel like they are effectively imprisoned by their homes.
Herald 23rd Oct 2018 read more »