Green Homes Grant Voucher Target Will Take 10 Years to Meet at Current Rates

Loft insulation installed with a Green Homes Grant voucher

ONLY 20,000 homeowners or landlords have been issued with a Green Homes Grant voucher so far to put towards the cost of installing energy efficient improvements.

At the current rate – 156 vouchers a day – it would take over 10 years to meet the Government’s target to issue a grant voucher to 600,000 households.

The latest figures were admitted by BEIS Minister Lord Callanan after concerns were raised by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) about the operation of the Green Homes Grant scheme.

Trustmark installer shortage

The EAC did an online survey on the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme in November, questioning people who had used it. The shortage of accredited operatives registered with TrustMark, the Government-endorsed quality scheme for Green Homes Grant installers, is highlighted as a reason consumers are unable to get work done under the scheme.

During an evidence session in November 2020, the EAC heard that 1,200 companies had registered with TrustMark. The Minister confirmed that two months later this number has only slightly increased to 1,300 companies.

Ministers hope the extension of the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme, to the end of March 2022, will give industry more confidence to hire installers with the necessary certifications.

However, concerns have been raised that the process to become accredited is a confusing and lengthy one, meaning that installers would not have enough time to recoup their investment before the scheme ends.

The EAC report follows news that installers are going unpaid after carrying out work under the scheme and accepting vouchers in part payment. Solar Energy UK reported several members are out of pocket by thousands of pounds.

Grant voucher extension

The EAC is also concerned that a lack of skilled installers risks the Government’s target to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. Under the Green Homes Grant, homeowners and residential landlords can receive vouchers towards heat pump installations.

The skills initiatives to train more installers outlined by Lord Callanan promises to ensure the UK is equipped to install low-carbon energy efficiency upgrades in the longer term.

However, the EAC points out that, as the £6.9 million skills competition is launching in September – only 7 months ahead of the deadline for the Green Homes Grant – it is unlikely they will be certified in time to do Green Homes Grant voucher work.

This failure will be avoided if the Chancellor announces a material, multi-year extension to the Green Homes Grant scheme in the March Budget, the EAC says.

Snails pace fails to deliver

EAC Chairman, Philip Dunne, said: “The principle of the Green Homes Grant should be commended. It is a timely initiative not only to boost energy efficiency of homes – which is urgently needed to stem carbon emissions – but to address our growing unemployment crisis triggered by the pandemic. But unless overhauled and further extended, this scheme will fail to deliver its ambition.

“Issuing vouchers is continuing at snail’s pace, with only 20,000 of the 600,000 target issued 4 months in – at this rate it will take over 10 years to fulfil the Government’s expectation.

“Many of the builders and installers that can do the work are in limbo as a result of the time taken to approve applications. And perversely, we have heard evidence some are having to lay off skilled workers as orders have been stalled pending confirmation of vouchers.

“This scheme has good potential. But it needs a radical overhaul now the scheme has been extended.

“It must streamline the application process by removing unnecessary bureaucracy and must make sure the supply of skills meets the demand that 600,000 vouchers, and a further boost by the Chancellor in the March Budget, would drive. By doing so, it could make large strides towards meeting other Government commitments, such as installing 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.”

Publication of the correspondence follows the EAC’s evidence session held on 3 February as part of its Green Jobs inquiry. The EAC plans to issue a full report on its inquiry into Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes in March 2021.

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