THE GOVERNMENT has announced that its Green Homes Grant voucher scheme is closing just seven months after its launch.
The £2 billion scheme was first introduced in August 2020. It was scheduled to start in September 2020 and run until March 2021. Businesses were urged to sign up to the scheme to offer home improvements.
However, the seven-month time frame was quickly realised to be too short for tradespeople to gain the PAS 2030 accreditation needed to become an energy efficiency installer. Tradespeople and businesses were expected to significantly invest their time and money to gain the accreditation.
In December 2020 the government announced it was extending the scheme for another 12 months. However, the bulk of the scheme’s funding was to be not rolled over. Only £300 million of the original £2 billion would be available for the future installations of the 600,000 homes targeted for energy efficiency measures – £500 for each home.
Green Homes Grant Problems
Administration of the Green Homes Grant has been beset with problems since it began. Only around 1,500 trades businesses have registered to become installers. Householders receiving vouchers repeatedly complained that it was impossible to get installers to do the work they needed under the scheme.
When installers did carry out the work and submitted the vouchers for reimbursement from the government, they waited months to be paid. Administration of the vouchers was operated by a multi-national firm appointed by the government. Installers reported that the firm was slow to respond to queries and claims. Trades businesses that had hired extra staff to do the grant work were then forced to lay them off and in some cases end their employment of pre-existing workers.
Green Homes Grant Closing Lessons
NFRC CEO James Talman said: “Sadly, the news that the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme is not being continued, whilst disappointing, does not come as a surprise. Despite warnings from industry, the Scheme did not work for the businesses that were expected to deliver it. The system was far too bureaucratic, costly, and time-consuming and, as such, was out of reach for the vast majority of roofing contractors. This meant that instead of it boosting order books, it actually led to some roofers losing work, and for others delaying projects.
“However, a long-term retrofit plan is still needed for the millions of homes in the UK that need upgrading to meet the UK’s net-zero targets, and the government must now provide this to give businesses and homeowners certainty. The roofing industry will be critical to this strategy, with a quarter of all heat loss from a home being through the roof. The government must learn lessons from the failed Green Homes Grant Scheme and fully consult with industry to find a scheme that works for all.”
The Environmental Audit Committee examined the operation of the scheme and heavily criticised it twice in its six-month existence. In February this year, the Committee said the scheme was being delivered at a snail’s pace and would take 10 years to meet its target.
The government says, “The scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic boost while tackling our contribution to climate change. Applications made before the end of March deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued may be extended upon request.”
To date, around 96,000 applications have been made through the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme and 39,000 vouchers have been issued.
Local Authority Delivery
Now the Green Homes Grant is closing, £300 million of unspent funding earmarked for energy efficiency measures and low carbon heating schemes in the next 12 months is to be transferred to local authorities in England.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This latest announcement takes our total energy efficiency spending to over £1.3 billion in the next financial year, giving installers the certainty they need to plan ahead, create new jobs and train the next generation of builders, plumbers and tradespeople.
“Decarbonising the country’s roughly 30 million buildings is essential if the UK is to meet its commitments to eliminating its contribution to climate change by 2050.”