End of The Green Homes Grant
At last it seems that we have some clarity about the Green Homes Grant Scheme and it is ending on 31sst March. After months of poor management and implementation at least now we know the position. Like all Companies in the industry, we have invested into the scheme with additional staff and costs, We feel very sorry for all of the people who applied and will now not see a voucher but please also think about all of the companies who have invested heavily in a scheme which, instead of promoting new jobs has worked the other way and put some companies, who were already struggling because of coronavirus over the edge through no fault of their own other than false promises from our government.
Surprise update to energy efficiency plans sees government boost funding for local authority upgrade schemes, but scrap the popular Green Homes Grant scheme at short notice
The government has announced it is to axe the embattled Green Homes Grant scheme from 5pm on March 31st, providing households with just a few more days to lodge applications for the popular energy efficiency grant scheme.
In a surprise move, the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) issued a statement late this afternoon confirming the scheme would be scrapped as part of reforms to the government’s wider domestic energy efficiency programme which will provide a £300m boost to schemes focused on improving energy efficiency for lower income households.
The Department said that following a review the Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme will close to new applications at the end of the month. “The scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic boost while tackling our contribution to climate change,” the statement read. “Applications made before the end of March deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued may be extended upon request.”
The move follows months of speculation that the scheme – which offers grants of up to £5,000, rising to £10,000 for low income households, to cover a significant chunk of the cost of domestic energy efficiency upgrades – could be scrapped. It had seemed as if the scheme had secured a repreive, albeit with a significantly lower budget than originally envisaged, after Chancellor Rishi Sunak left it untouched as part of this month’s Budget. And with recent figures showing around 100,000 households had applied for vouchers under the scheme, despite well documented administrative issues and delays, energy efficiency firms had been hoping it could help to drive demand as the economy starts to open up following the latest lockdown.
But the scheme has now been axed at short notice and the government provided no indication as to whether it will be replaced by new incentives for the ‘able to pay’ part of the market, despite recent reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is keen to explore the potential for an alternative approach for improving domestic energy efficiency.
Instead, Ministers today focused on the £300m boost to funding for the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme and Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund Demonstrator, which will include green home improvements such as deep insulation, heat pumps and solar panels, and is expected to cut over 70,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere each year.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said improving energy efficiency remains a top priority for the government. “Upgrading the country’s homes with energy efficiency measures means we can cut emissions and save people money on their energy bills,” he said in a statement. “Today’s funding boost will mean even more households across England are able to access these vital grants through their local authority. This latest announcement takes our total energy efficiency spending to over £1.3bn 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.”
The government added that through the extended local authority schemes, tens of thousands more households on incomes of less than £30,000 will not have to make any financial contribution to energy efficiency improvements to their homes. It also stressed the overall energy efficiency funding for next year was in line with the Conservative manifesto promise to spend £9bn on energy efficiency programmes over the course of the Parliament.
However, the move to scrap the Green Homes Grant is likely to spark a furious response from green groups and the building and energy efficiency sector.
According to the government’s own figures, to date more than 96,000 applications have been made through the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme and more than 39,000 vouchers have been issued. As such, the government expects to issue vouchers worth a total value of £300m by the time the scheme closes on 31 March 2021, representing a fraction of the original £1.5bn budget for a scheme that was lauded by the government at its launch as being a key plank of its green recovery programme.
Numerous energy efficiency businesses have sought to scale up to deliver work under the scheme, only to be hamstrung first by delays to vouchers being issued and now the closure of the initiative a full year earlier than planned.
Meanwhile, campaigners have long warned the promised £9bn budget for energy efficiency was well short of the level required to put the UK on track for net zero emission by 2050, even before the pandemic strengthened the case for fast-tracking spending that can deliver a major economic stimulus.
Responding to today’s news, Ed Matthew, campaigns director at climate change think tank E3G, described the end of the government’s flagship green homes grant scheme as “a tragedy that was avoidable”.
“There was plenty of demand for the grants but the scheme was plagued by incompetent administration,” he said. “The reality is that we can’t get to net zero emissions without decarbonising our homes. A new grant scheme must now replace it which can get grants out the door fast, with long term funding to give business the confidence to invest. It is surely not beyond the capability of this government to give money away at a time of economic crisis.”
The move also comes at a time when the government is facing growing criticism after it last summer promised to deliver a Rooselveltian-style green recovery package, only to announce a raft of various initiatives that have provided a welcome boost to green industries but have lacked financial backing on a par with the €40bn green recovery programme unveiled by the German government.
Labour’s Shadow Climate Change Minister Matthew Pennycook said the new £300m of funding announced today “doesn’t even come close to plugging the investment gap created by the government’s decision to slash more than £1bn from its Green Homes Grant scheme and then scrap it altogether”.
“Ministers might talk a good game on energy efficiency but their staggering ineptitude when it comes to decarbonising the country’s housing stock speaks for itself,” he adde