Last month the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published a report on the home insulation market and said that the Government needs to improve consumer protection and encourage more competition and choice in the sector.

There has been so much debate about Green Deal it’s become a minefield to understand what is taking place and how specialists can participate in a source of new work. Making sure you have the right skills to undertake the work is vital in order to avoid the weaknesses that the OFT has identified in the existing home insulation market.

Plasterers in the heritage sector went down the route of qualifying tradesmen and craftsmen to ensure they had the knowledge and understanding to work on heritage projects. Qualifying the workforce ensured that the right material were used and that they were installed correctly. Shame that some clients ignored this completely and allowed any worker in. You wonder why our heritage is being lost?

During the OFT enquiry into the home insulation market it received complaints that some traders are not always installing the most appropriate materials. It also found that customers found it difficult to obtain quick and effective redress when things went wrong.

The OFT also had complaints about the length of time it can take for new products to be approved for use in the market. Obstacles must be removed for manufacturers trying to develop innovative new products. This will encourage greater competition and choice in the market, which should (in theory) lower costs and make the market more sustainable.

The home insulation sector is now worth some £700 million per annum and (…in theory) a potential source of new work for FPDC members. What is critical as Green Deal gets closer is that customers receive good quality, well-installed insulation that makes their homes more energy efficient. And trust the service.

Please let’s not miss an opportunity or fall into the trap that the heritage sector found itself in. The OFT report highlights the need for installers to have the right skills.  Steps need to be taken to ensure that only fully qualified and accredited contractors can install works under the Green Deal…shopping around for the cheapest price does not always work out…as we all know.

Adrian JG Marsh