BORIS Johnson must make good on his promise to speed up the claims of thousands of Scots “conned” in a UK Government green homes deal. 

Anne McLaughlin, MP for Glasgow North East, is to write to the Prime Minister after he agreed in Parliament that the length of time claims were taking against one Scottish firm was too long.

The SNP MP has been helping dozens of her own constituents who were caught up in the scandal of mis-selling by Cambuslang firm Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (Helms).

The company, which dissolved in 2016, was an approved installer for the UK Government’s Green Deal between 2013 and 2015. It was supposed to encourage homeowners to get energy-efficient products and bring down the cost of their energy bills.

In theory, the savings made on energy would effectively make the cost of installation free.

However, the scheme was withdrawn two years after it was introduced, when consumers reported faults with some of their installations, and the savings they were making were not anywhere near what was promised. 

In Scotland, Helms faced criticism for its selling tactics, with Citizens Advice Scotland producing a report in 2018 detailing the unorthodox methods reported by customers.

This included telling vulnerable and elderly people they were getting the work done for free, and using high-pressure tactics to get them to sign up. 

Mary Hunter, 88, from Glasgow, is among more than 3,000 Scottish homeowners left with long-term debts after signing up for a new boiler, home insulation, or solar panels with Helms. 

Mrs Hunter told The Herald she was “embarrassed” when she realised what had happened to her.

She explained: “I saw some neighbours getting cladding done and I thought it might be a good idea, and would bring down the energy bills but when I asked about it, I was told about solar panels and a boiler and things as well. I didn’t need those things, but I was told the Government was paying for them as part of a scheme.

“I signed up and then I started getting these bills through. It said I had taken out a loan for 25 years. I was 82 when I signed up … I would need to be 107 to pay it off.” 

Mrs Hunter said she wants the Prime Minister to speed up the process for appeals which is being handled by various different agencies including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). 

BEIS said the claims are being treated as a priority, but due to their complexity it is taking time to process. It is understood just 400 appeals have been submitted to the department, with 170 initial decisions made.  

Citizens Advice Scotland, along with the MP for Glasgow North East, have been campaigning to get the loans people have taken out on the products cancelled.

As well as being saddled with debts of up to £11,000, some people are unable to sell their homes as the works were carried out without the proper certificates or warranties.

McLaughlin wants the Government to not only cancel the loans but compensate the victims and refund the money they have already paid out.

She said: “I’ve been helping these people for years, and the way they have been treated by Helms and by the Government has been appalling.

Their complaints and claims are just taking far too long to process. Meanwhile, they are still gathering interest on the loans and having to make payments towards them or risk having their energy supply cut off.

“I’m glad the Prime Minister agreed that something had to be done, but I’ll now be writing to him to follow this up because it isn’t the first time he has promised something and not delivered.”

McLaughlin said if the issue was not dealt with soon, it would drastically reduce the Government’s chances of getting homeowners to invest in energy-efficient products in future as they would lose trust entirely in any future similar schemes.

Citizens Advice Scotland’s fair markets spokeswoman, Kate Morrison, said: “Over the past four years the Citizens Advice network in Scotland has been supporting people who were mis-sold products like external wall cladding and solar panels by rogue trader Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Systems (Helms).  We believe these bad loans should be cancelled.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “There is a robust process, backed by legislation, for handling complaints about mis-selling of Green Deal plans by Helms. If they remain dissatisfied after approaching their Green Deal provider and the Ombudsman, consumers may appeal to the Secretary of State, who can cancel or reduce loans if the evidence supports this. These cases are being treated as a priority by BEIS.”