Green Homes Grant: rate of uptake
£2 billion of government funds was originally allocated for private homes. A further £1 billion set aside for public housing. The wider scope of the initiative being to upgrade the UK’s existing housing stock. This was part of the drive to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and reduce fuel poverty in low-income households. ‘More than 26,000 Green Homes Grant vouchers worth £110 million have already been issued, helping us improve the energy efficiency of homes,’ said a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in February 2021. ‘We continue to work with the scheme’s administrator to ensure voucher applications are processed as quickly as possible.’
Too few installers
The scheme was promoted as a way to create work for accredited tradespeople. But it had been criticised by homeowners and industry organisations alike for the low numbers of certified installers. ‘The government will clearly be disappointed that a scheme designed to create 100,000 new jobs has fewer than 1,000 building companies on board. A flash-in-the-pan policy doesn’t give small builders the confidence they need to invest in the necessary accreditations and training,’ said Brian Berry, CEO of the Federation of Master Builders.
No shortage of consumer interest
According to the heat pump industry, the Green Homes Grant succeeded in raising consumer awareness of low-carbon heating. But following media reports that the initiative was to have funds withdrawn and the scheme cut short, it called on the chancellor to retain the scheme. The industry wanted unspent funds rolled over into 2021-22 or to otherwise increase the second year budget. It also wanted BEIS and the Treasury to work with the industry to review and reform the initiative’s terms and conditions.
‘Under appropriate commercial conditions, uptake in participation by installers will climb. Awareness and demand from the public is there to be serviced,’ said Bean Beanland of the Heat Pump Federation at the time. ‘As with all government interventions, give the industry an extended period of stable policy and the heat pump sector will deliver growth, training and secure new employment.’
The grant was paid to installers on satisfactory completion of the approved work. But with some installers having experienced a delay in payment, reluctance to commit to gaining TrustMark accreditation, along with the cost of doing so, was an ongoing issue. ‘To ensure the highest standards of service, ministers have asked the scheme administrator to pay money owed to installers and sort the processing of applications as a matter of urgency,’ said a BEIS spokesperson.
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