What was it, and what went wrong?
The Government’s Green Homes Grant scheme was designed to provide financial help towards making your home more energy efficient. But it ran into trouble during the rollout phase and ended on 31 March 2021 with the majority of the money unspent. Let’s hope there will be a replacement announced soon, as this is a crucial part of meeting our national carbon targets.
About the Green Homes Grant
The details of the Green Homes Grant scheme were announced in September 2020 as part of a £2 Billion green jobs package. £1 Billion of this is for home energy improvements, enough for an estimated 600,000 grants .
It was open to homeowners and landlords, who can apply for vouchers towards the cost of energy efficiency improvements. A parallel scheme provided funds for councils to improve social housing.
The vouchers could cover up to two thirds of the cost of the improvements, up to a maximum of £5,000. If you receive certain means tested benefits, you could get a voucher that covers all the costs of your improvements, up to a maximum of £10,000
What could I spend the grant on?
Two categories of improvements were created. You could apply for a voucher to install one or more of the following ‘primary’ measures:
- Solid wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, under-floor insulation or roof insulation (including loft, flat roof and room-in-roof) and park home insulation
- Air source heat pump or ground source heat pump
- Solar thermal heating
In addition to one of the above, you could use your voucher for one or more improvement on the ‘secondary measures’ list. The cost of the secondary measure could no be greater than the cost of the primary measure:
- Draught proofing
- Replacing single glazing with double/triple glazing or installing secondary glazing
- Upgrading doors (installed before 2002) with energy efficient replacements
- Hot water tank insulation
- A range of heating controls – including hot water tank thermostats, thermostatic radiator valves and smart heating controls.
Details on available measures and eligibility for the low income scheme can be found here.
Finding accredited installers
To qualify for the grant, the Government required the work is done by tradespeople and businesses that are registered via the Trustmark accreditation scheme. Firms installing low carbon heating improvements also need to be MCS certified. You can click on these Trustmark and MCS links to find accredited installers in our area.
The intention was to ensure a level of quality control on the work done, and avoid cowboy installers. But this created severe bottlenecks as there are not many businesses registered with the Trustmark scheme at the moment, certainly not in our area. And those that are have been swamped with enquiries. There were also problems with the administration of the scheme, which created delays in issuing vouchers and reimbursing installers.
Deadline for applications
As originally set out, work needed to be planned and completed by 31 March 2021 in order to qualify. This proved highly problematic, given the shortage of accredited installers, and the added challenges of Covid. This was initially extended for a year, until March 2022. But this extension has since been cancelled – so the original March 2021 deadline remains. People who have had their applications for vouchers under the scheme accepted will receive any money owed, but no new applications will be accepted after the end of this month. This Guardian article explains the background to the withdrawal of the scheme.
Encouraging homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes is a central plank in national efforts to curb carbon emissions, and encourage a green recovery to the Covid pandemic. In theory it could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and spark a whole new retrofit industry. But the lessons from the Green Homes Grant are that this can’t be done overnight. Longer-term measures are needed that allow the skills base to be built up gradually, and don’t set unrealistic deadlines to get work done.
With COP26 approaching, the Government is under intense pressure to show it is leading from the front on green issues. So let’s hope a replacement scheme will be announced soon.
We’ll keep you posted.