The Department takes very seriously the issue of mis-selling.
To help improve quality and consumer confidence, the Government commissioned the independent Each Home Counts review, led by Dr. Peter Bonfield, which published its findings in December 2016. Implementation of Each Home Counts is being led by industry with the support of Government, in line with the recommendations of the review. One of the main recommendations from the Review was to establish a quality mark for retrofit energy efficiency and renewable energy measures to help offer a clear and consistent standard for consumers. Those businesses who wish to use the quality mark will need to adhere to a customer charter and code of conduct which will ensure appropriate levels of consumer protection including around mis-selling.
The Department has specific responsibilities for certain schemes and I set out below steps taken to protect consumers in key areas.
Green Deal: The Green Deal helps consumers make energy-saving improvements to their properties with the cost repaid via the consumer’s electricity bill. There is an established process for handling complaints. In the first instance, consumers should approach their Green Deal Provider. Where the Green Deal Provider is unable to resolve the complaint satisfactorily, the consumer may approach the Green Deal Ombudsman or for complaints relating to the mis-selling of credit, the Financial Ombudsman Service. The consumer redress process is set out in The Green Deal Framework (Disclosure, Acknowledgment, Redress etc.) Regulations, and is supplemented by the Green Deal Code of Practice. Under certain circumstances, where a consumer is not satisfied with the decision of the relevant Ombudsman, the regulations also allow for cases to be referred to the Secretary of State, who may impose reduction or cancellation of Green Deal plans.
Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed-in Tariff: The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme provides financial incentives to install renewable heating systems to support the transition to low-carbon heating in the UK. The Feed-in Tariff scheme is a programme designed to promote the uptake of small-scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generation technologies. It is a key condition of both schemes that the renewable energy technology product and the installer are certified to the standards of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), a third party certification scheme. This ensures that people who buy renewable energy systems and apply to these schemes are covered by consumer protection schemes governing the quality and performance of the products, as well as the quality of the installation and service they receive from the installer.
Installers are required to be a member of a Consumer Code, backed by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, which covers advertising and promotion, behaviour of sales staff, proposals, estimates and quotes, terms of business, cancellation rights, deposits and prepayments, guarantees, maintenance and service agreements and service and repair.
Complaints about the installed product, the installation, or the installer can be submitted to the MCS. A Complaint Guidelines document is published on the Scheme’s website. Depending on the nature of the complaint, it is then dealt with by the MCS Administrator, the relevant Certification Body which certificated the product or the installer, or the Consumer Code of which the installer is a member.
Consumers not covered by the protections above should contact their local Trading Standards.