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How to complain about Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS)

This advice applies to Scotland

This page explains how to complain about a Green Deal loan and green home improvements you were sold by Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS). 

There’s a different complaints process if you want to complain about a different Green Deal provider

It’s worth complaining because you might be able to get:

  • your Green Deal loan written off
  • reduced Green Deal payments
  • a refund of some of your Green Deal payments
  • a settlement figure - an amount you pay to cancel your Green Deal. 

Your complaint could also be rejected but you can reduce the chances of this happening by getting help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau

Deciding which complaints process to use

You can't complain to HELMS because it's out of business. 

You can complain to:

  • the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). BEIS is the part of the UK government responsible for Green Deal 
  • the Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC) - the private company that bought the debt owed by HELMS customers. Your Green Deal payments go to GDFC.

It's best to complain to either GDFC or BEIS. Complaining to both at the same time is possible but might be hard to keep track of, and you can only accept a final offer from one. 

This means you’ll need to think carefully about whether to apply to the GDFC or BEIS first. Keep in mind:

  • if you're unhappy with what the GDFC offers, you can complain to BEIS next. BEIS might take the offer from GDFC into consideration in their decision-making
  • if BEIS offers to reduce your Green Deal loan, they’ll only apply the reduction from the date you submitted your complaint to them
  • organisations like Citizens Advice Scotland can ask BEIS for anonymised information about how it's dealing with complaints. There's no oversight of complaints to the GDFC
  • if you’ve accepted a reduction of your Green Deal in writing from the GDFC, you can’t complain to BEIS. 

If you need more advice, speak to an adviser at your local citizens advice bureau as soon as possible. They might have other clients in a similar situation because the Green Deal was often sold to lots of people in the same area. 

How to write your complaint

You'll need to put your complaint in writing and be clear about what your problems are and how you want things put right. Our advice can help you identify how HELMS might have scammed you

To help you to understand what’s happened and write your complaint, you should: 

  • gather paperwork - including Green Deal statements and product warranties
  • make notes about calls or meetings with HELMS salespeople - write down what they said or didn’t say about your home improvements and the Green Deal. You can also write down what you thought and said to them
  • make a timeline of events - this can help you remember what happened
  • take pictures - for example, of faulty or damaged home improvements.

Next you should write down your complaint. Make sure you include:

  • what HELMS sold to you - include your Green Deal plan ID and information about the home improvements that were installed
  • what HELMS did wrong - write down what they did or didn’t do that they should or shouldn’t have done
  • the effect on you - for example, financial loss, inconvenience, stress or hardship. Include any relevant personal circumstances, like your age or health conditions
  • what you want to happen - explain how you would like BEIS or the GDFC to put things right
  • evidence - for example, copies of letters, emails, Green Deal paperwork, other credit agreements, feed-in tariff paperwork, invoices or receipts. 

What you want to happen will depend on your circumstances. You might want to ask for:

  • reduced Green Deal payments 
  • a refund of past payments
  • your Green Deal to be written off
  • compensation. 

You’ll need to build your complaint and set it out in writing. Use our template letter if you’re writing to BEIS [Word 26 kb]

It’s important to be as clear as possible. You can ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help with writing your complaint. 

Complaining to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

You can post or email your complaint to:

Green Deal Team
6th Floor
1 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0ET

Email: gdconsumers@beis.gov.uk

Keep a copy of what you’ve sent. You can get free proof of postage from the post office. 

Getting a notice of intention

It can take a few months for BEIS to reply to your complaint. You can phone or email them to check that they got it. 

Once BEIS has looked at your complaint, you should get a letter called a notice of intention. The Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC) will also get this letter. 

A notice of intention is not a final decision on your case. It’s a letter telling you and the GDFC what the government’s initial decision is. You have an opportunity to argue for a different offer. 

It’s important that you read the letter and understand what BEIS is offering. When you read the letter, you should check: 

  • the facts - are the facts and events of your complaint correct?
  • what BEIS says about your complaint - an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you check
  • the proposed decision - this is what BEIS is offering to do about your case. Check the annexes for more detail, like how any reduction has been calculated.

BEIS might be offering to:

  • cancel your Green Deal  
  • reduce your Green Deal payment - check the letter for the amount
  • refund some of your Green Deal payments
  • allow you to pay an amount to settle your Green Deal
  • reject your complaint.

You’ll need to consider if the offer is right for you. If BEIS is suggesting a reduction, refund or settlement, check the amounts carefully. 

Notice of intention letters can be complex and difficult to understand. You can get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They might have other clients in a similar situation because the Green Deal was often sold to lots of people in the same area. 

If you don’t get a notice of intention

It can take several months for BEIS to look at your case. Phone or email to check that they got your complaint.  

Contact BEIS as soon as possible if you get a final notice without a notice of intention first. This might be an administrative error. You should get a chance to reply to the notice of intention before a final decision is made. 

Replying to the notice of intention

Once you get the notice of intention, you have 30 days to reply to BEIS. 

You can:

  • accept the offer 
  • argue for a different offer - you might want to do this if you don’t agree with the amount you’re offered, the facts are wrong or your complaint has been rejected
  • reject the offer and withdraw your complaint - you might want to do this if you have a better offer from the GDFC.

If you don’t reply, BEIS will think that you accept their offer.

If you want to accept the offer

Tell BEIS by letter or email that you accept the offer. Contact details will be on your notice of intention. 

After 30 days you should get a final notice.

The GDFC could still ask for the decision to be reviewed. 

If you want to argue for a different offer

You’ll need to write to BEIS to argue that they should change their decision. This is called 'making representations'. For example, you might be able to argue that they:

  • got the facts wrong
  • didn’t take into account some new evidence you’ve got
  • haven’t assessed your case correctly 
  • haven’t offered you enough for the seriousness of your problems.

You’ll need to say what outcome you want instead - for example, for your Green Deal to be cancelled rather than reduced, or reduced more. 

You can use our template letter of representations. BEIS won’t talk about your case with you - you must put your arguments in writing. 

You only get one chance to argue for a different outcome, so it’s important to get advice if you’re not sure what to say to BEIS. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or a lawyer for help. 

Follow the instructions for sending your reply under the 'Representations' section of your notice of intention. Keep a copy of anything you send and get proof of postage.

You’ll need to send it within 30 days of getting your notice of intention. 

The GDFC can also make representations about why they disagree with an offer being made.

BEIS will consider your points and then decide whether to change their decision or keep it the same. There’s no timeframe for how long it will take for BEIS to decide. 

Once BEIS have made their decision on your case, you should receive a final notice, which is their final decision on your case. 

If you want to withdraw your complaint

You should usually only think about withdrawing your complaint if you’ve had an offer from the GDFC that’s better than the offer from BEIS. The GDFC will only review their original offer to you once they have confirmation that you have withdrawn your BEIS complaint.

You should contact the GDFC to ask for this offer to be opened up again. The GDFC might then send you a fresh offer, which you’ll need to accept within 30 days. 

Get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau before you withdraw your complaint. If you withdraw your complaint, it’s not clear if you can complain again to BEIS.  

Getting a final notice from BEIS

You’ll get a letter from BEIS called a final notice. This is the government’s final decision on your case. 

The decision might be different from the notice of intention because of the arguments you and the GDFC have made. 

You can:

  • accept the final decision 
  • reject the decision and appeal - the GDFC can also appeal. Appeals must be made to the First-tier Tribunal within 28 days
  • withdraw your complaint - you might want to do this if you have a better offer from the GDFC.

You’ll need to consider if the final decision is right for you. If BEIS is suggesting a reduction, refund or settlement, check the amounts carefully.

If you’re not happy with the decision, think about whether you’ll be able to pay any costs of appealing. 

You can get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They might have other clients in a similar situation as Green Deal was often sold to lots of people in the same area. 

If you want to accept the offer

You should tell BEIS by letter or email that you accept. If you accept the offer, that is the final say on your case. You won’t be able to reopen your case or appeal. 

If you’ve agreed to a reduction, your Green Deal loan will be reduced by the amount noted in the letter. You should receive an updated Green Deal statement.

The GDFC could still appeal to the First-tier Tribunal

If you want to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal

If either you or the GDFC disagrees with the decision in the final notice, you both have the right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber)

If you're successful, the judge will order BEIS to issue a new decision about your case. 

If you want to withdraw your complaint

You should usually only think about withdrawing your complaint if you’ve had an offer from the GDFC that’s better than the offer from BEIS. The GDFC will only review their original offer to you once they have confirmation that you’ve withdrawn your BEIS complaint.

You should contact the GDFC to ask for this offer to be opened up again. The GDFC might then send you a fresh offer, which you will need to accept within 30 days. 

Get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau before you withdraw your complaint. If you withdraw your complaint, it’s not clear if you can complain again to BEIS.  

Complaining to the Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC)

If you choose to complain to GDFC, you should email them at customerhelp@gdfcassets.org to find out how to make your complaint. 

The GDFC might offer to:

  • cancel your Green Deal liability for the credit 
  • reduce your Green Deal payment - check the letter for the amount
  • refund some of your Green Deal payments
  • allow you to pay an amount to cancel your Green Deal - sometimes called a settlement figure.

The GDFC might reject your complaint. You can appeal against this to the secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). 

Challenging a decision from the GDFC

If you’ve already contacted the GDFC and aren’t happy with their offer, you can send your complaint to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Use this example letter to ask the secretary of state to review your case [Word 16 kb]

Appealing to the First-tier Tribunal

You have 28 days from the date on your final notice letter to lodge your appeal.

Find out more about appealing to the First-tier Tribunal on GOV.UK. You can also read about what happens at a tribunal hearing

Think carefully about whether appealing is right for you. 

You can represent yourself at the tribunal or have someone else represent you. This could be a qualified tribunals representative, a solicitor or an advocate. 

There will be costs, including travel and legal representation if you’re unable to get free representation. 

Get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau if you’re thinking about appealing to the First-tier Tribunal. 

Settling your Green Deal

If your Green Deal is reduced, you can ask the Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC) how much it would cost to clear your loan by paying a lump sum. This is called a settlement figure. 

If your Green Deal loan is cleared, you’re no longer a Green Deal customer with a Green Deal home. 

This means you:

  • don’t have to declare your home as Green Deal - for example, when you rent or sell it 
  • stop making Green Deal payments
  • can change energy suppliers more easily. 
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