Cutting green homes grant ‘would be a big mistake’
A plan by the government to cut back its flagship £2 billion Green Homes Grant’s after less than a year is a big mistake, says a Midlands energy expert.
“It sends outs all the wrong signals, especially when the UK is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this November,” said Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd.
The scheme was launched last September as part of the Conservatives’ 10-point plan to help cut net carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said it would create up to 100,000 jobs and kick-start the economy.
It is run by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and an American global consulting firm, ICF in Virginia.
The fund is made up of £1.5bn for householders and landlords, and another £500m for local authorities. The Government promised to cover two thirds of the costs up to £5,000 or £10,000 depending on circumstances, towards energy efficiency improvements to decarbonise the UK’s housing stock.
But only 22,165 grants worth £94.1 million have been given out compared to an initial target of 600,000 from the £2 billion pot.
The Commons environmental audit committee warned that at present rates it would take ten years to meet that target.
“The problem,” said Ron, “is that decisions have been delayed by the difficulties of lockdown and the reluctance of some people to allow tradespeople into their homes because of Covid-19.
“Also, some residents have been waiting nearly five months for the grants to be approved and to be issued with vouchers while installers say they have had to lay off staff because they are owed tens of thousands of pounds by the scheme.”
Although the scheme was due to last until March 2022, already the energy minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said in a Parliamentary answer that any of the initial £1.5 billion unspent in this financial year would not be rolled over to the next year, citing concerns over the lack of take-up.
She said a far smaller amount announced by the chancellor – £320m – would be available from next month, effectively withdrawing hundreds of millions of pounds from the programme.
But now the scheme may be scrapped completely at the end of March.
“The Government decisions sends out all the wrong signals to the international community about how serious the UK is about fighting climate change; to householders who want to improve their homes environmentally and to businesses who have engaged with the programme in good faith, but will now be left out of pocket,” said Ron.
“This programme needs to be overhauled and extended as a matter of urgency.”
Caption: The Government is scaling back its flagship £2 billion green homes grants scheme to help with installing insulation and new heating systems such as thermal heat pumps, pictured.