Green Deal News

The UK government looks set to undertake a partial U-turn and launch a national communications campaign to promote its new Green Deal energy efficiency scheme when it launches in the autumn.

Ministers have repeatedly rebuffed calls from the energy efficiency sector for a high-profile advertising and communications campaign to drive awareness of the scheme and its ability to offer households and businesses building improvements at no upfront cost. Most notably, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) responded to a recent report from the Green Alliance think tank calling for a such a campaign by stressing that it expected the private sector to undertake the bulk of the marketing for Green Deal services.

However, the DECC also acknowledged there would be “obvious and important areas where government communications are important” to the success of the Green Deal, and BusinessGreen has now learnt that it is working on plans for a communications campaign worth at least £2m.

Industry sources confirmed a number of communications agencies have been asked to submit plans for a £2m campaign, including proposals for what a campaign worth between £5m and £10m could look like.

Sources who have seen the brief reveal the government is asking for submissions that promote the Green Deal and integrate messages about other green policy areas. However, it remains unclear whether the campaign will extend to advertising or instead focus on other forms of communication and marketing activity.

A DECC spokesman confirmed that the department was in the process of procuring a communications planning agency to help explore “a range of options to promote the Green Deal”.

He added that “at this stage nothing is ruled in or out”, and refused to be drawn further on the plan, insisting that “the details are confidential until any agreement is finalised”.

Industry insiders and green groups were quick to welcome the news. Green Alliance head of research Faye Scott said: “This is welcome evidence that the government not only recognises how essential public engagement will be to the success of the Green Deal, but [also] how vital its own role is.

“Some form of national communication about the Green Deal is necessary to provide consumers with clarity in the face of multiple offerings and in light of the other energy policies also targeting them. We hope this planned campaign will be a significant step towards meeting that need.”

Scott’s comments were echoed by Andrew Warren of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, who argued that some form of national communications campaign “will be desperately needed to ensure people are aware of what the Green Deal actually is”.

“There may have been a pledge from government to cut spending on advertising and communications,” he added, “but there is a legitimate case for telling people what is going on with the Green Deal.”

However, some sources voiced concerns about the relatively small scale of the communications budget and the ability of the government to effectively raise awareness of the scheme.

“You can achieve a lot with a communications campaign,” said Warren. “But £2m will not buy a lot of advertising space… and if you are going to constrain yourself to not spending anything on paid-for media advertising, you are limiting your options.”

News of a potential campaign will also prompt fresh questions as to when the government will confirm how it plans to use the £200m fund that has been earmarked for driving take-up of Green Deal services.

DECC officials told BusinessGreen back in June that the department was looking at some form of time-limited cash-back scheme to help drive initial demand for the Green Deal, but ministers are yet to confirm the details of any offer, despite the fact the Deal is scheduled to officially launch in less than three months.

Posted on Sep 10, 2012.

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