Green Deal software delay hits applicants
Assessments under the government's energy saving scheme the Green Deal have been delayed by a lack of computer software.
Under the system, loans are given for home improvements - but the work must pay for itself through lower bills.
BBC Radio 4's You and Yours found applicants had been turned away because the software needed for part of the test had not been signed off.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change said it was now ready.
The Green Deal launched in October and encourages householders to have their home or business assessed to see what savings can be made.
David Walton runs a small company of chartered surveyors in Hale in Cheshire. He is a trained assessor and explained why he has been turning potential customers away.
"We thought at this stage we would be out undertaking Green Deal assessments, helping people, educating them and helping them to be more energy efficient," he said.
"We have had a lot of enquiries for Green Deal assessments. Most have come from the DECC website and they refer people to Green Deal advisory services such as ourselves.
"We are telling people we would be delighted to do an assessment for them but, at this moment in time, there is no software available for us to do the occupancy assessment.
"Technically, the software should have been ready by now, they were looking at a launch date of October this year. But it's been no secret that October wasn't really going to be realistic."
Two pieces of software are required - one to produce energy performance certificates and a second to measure how people in the property use gas and electricity. It is the second piece of software that was delayed.
You and Yours spoke to six other assessment firms which said they were turning away potential applicants while they were waiting for the computer program to be approved.
The software became available on Thursday and assessments should start within days. Loans under the Green Deal will be available in January 2013, but applicants must have completed a property assessment.
Labour's Luciana Berger, shadow climate change minister, asked the government in November how many assessments had been carried out. The answer was none.
She told You and Yours: "I was obviously very keen to know how successful the scheme had been since its soft launch in October.
"I was very disturbed by the answer, which was zero. We've now found out exactly why that is.
"[The department] has now rushed it out as a result of the probing questions that have been asked."
The Department for Energy and Climate Change said: "It's a really positive sign for the future success of the Green Deal, which goes live in January, that advisers are now ready to carry out assessments and that their order books are filling up.
"The first assessment tool is now available, which will allow Green Deal advice reports to be created.
"A further tool has also just been validated and will be available shortly. We know that more are close to validation as well."