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Greg Barker says rise in Green Deal Assessments to 44,479 is encouraging for flagship energy efficiency programme.

Government statistics show 36 households had signed up to the Green Deal energy efficiency scheme by the end of June.

The number is an improvement on the four households recorded midway through last month, but still leaves the government a long way short of a targeted 10,000 Green Deal financing packages by the end of the year.

However, the data released today shows a further 270 are poised to embark on a Green Deal plan and there were further signs of encouragement as the number of assessments undertaken rose to almost 44,500, up from just under 31,000 at the end of May.

The slow start to the scheme had been blamed on the fact only a handful of companies offered full Green Deal services during the first six months of the scheme. For example, British Gas was the only "Big Six" energy supplier to offer a full Green Deal service during the scheme's early months.

However, critics have warned that without more incentives and lower interest rates take up of the scheme is likely to reach the level required to meet the government's targets.

The figures show 6,224 cashback vouchers have been issued to the end of June, with a total budget committed of around £1.83m. Of these, 3,449 had been used with the vast majority using the vouchers to help towards the cost of boiler replacements - just five vouchers have been used for solid wall insulation, nine for loft insulation, and four for cavity wall insulation.

The data suggests many people are using their own finance to pay for measures recommended by Green Deal assessments, avoiding the need for financing packages while still accessing the government's cash back incentives.

However, Greg Barker, Minister for Energy and Climate Change, hailed the "steady increase" in assessments in the two weeks since the release of the last Green Deal statistics.

"It is very early days in the Green Deal but over 100,000 homes already have measures installed and now innovative private finance is beginning to flow," he said. "We must remember that the Green Deal is an ambitious long-term programme that's only just getting started.

"More finance providers are becoming active in the market though this will take time. I expect the number of plans to start increasing and nearly 45,000 assessments in just over six months really underlines that people are aspiring to make their homes more energy efficient ahead of autumn and winter."

The figures show that there are now 226 Green Deal Assessor organisations and 66 Green Deal providers.

Mark Bayley, chief executive of the Green Deal Finance Company, said he expected a further 50 companies "of all shapes and sizes" to be offering approved Green Deal services by the end of the year.

"The progress will come as Green Deal providers develop their business and Green Deal plans will come on the back of that," he told Business Green.

Bayley also rejected criticisms that the interest rate on Green Deal loans was deterring the public from the scheme, saying 83 per cent of the UK would be eligible for credit under the Green Deal, offering finance to eight million people who would not be considered by private finance.

"With a like-for-like comparison we are radically cheaper than the alternative," he said.

The government has also released figures for the subsidised ECO component of the scheme, which targets fuel-poor and hard to treat households. By the end of May, 115,723 measures were installed under ECO, half of which were loft insulation and around a third of which were cavity wall insulations.

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