Green Homes Grant: Less than 10% of promised vouchers issued

The scheme had targeted 600

The Green Homes Grant was launched last summer as part of the Government’s broader green recovery approach. It originally had a £2bn budget and was set to help 600,000 UK homes with the cost of retrofitting schemes to improve energy efficiency.

But, after claiming that the UK’s retrofitting services sector did not have enough tradespeople qualified to conduct accredited works, and receiving many applications from homes that did not meet the accreditation criteria, the Government pulled £1.5bn of the funding earlier this year. The move proved almost universally unpopular.

Now, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published figures on voucher issuance through to March, when the Grant scheme closed to applications. The figures confirm that less than 10% of the vouchers have been issued to date.

Collectively, just £196m worth of vouchers were issued. These vouchers covered 53,000 households. While applications did peak in March, ahead of the closure, the majority of March applications were rejected. Some applicants are still waiting to hear if they have been successful.  

Industry reaction

Reacting to the figures, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Green Homes Grant was an opportunity to create thousands of decent jobs in making our homes warmer and greener – but at the current rate, it would take two centuries to reach all English homes.

“Local councils have shown they can retrofit more homes – and faster than private companies. The government’s Buildings and Heat Strategy, due out imminently, should learn these lessons and give local councils the resources to create more jobs and make all our homes warmer and greener.”

BEIS has notably confirmed that £500,000 of the funding originally earmarked for the Green Homes Grant will now go to English and Scottish councils directly, to help them support residents with energy efficiency upgrades. But calls for a longer-term and larger replacement continue.

Among the organisations making such calls to action is the ECIU. Analyst Jess Ralston, from the Unit, said: “Sky-high interest from the outset and a final surge just before its premature end demonstrates an overwhelming desire for a Green Homes Grant successor that can actually keep up with demand.

“Achieving our world-beating emissions targets won’t be possible without action on homes, now the most obvious policy gap. Filling this is not only vital to meeting long-term goals but for bringing Brits along with the transition to a zero-carbon society.

“We can also see that households are up for improvements that were previously thought to be unpopular; solid wall insulation and low carbon heating each account for a fifth of total applications. This new evidence, alongside lessons learned from the green homes grant, should give policymakers confidence to deliver the ambitious scheme that millions of families are desperate for.”

The Country Land & Business Association’s president Mark Bridgeman added: “We need a new Green Home Grant made available without delay. A new, reformed scheme, properly thought through and adapted to serve the whole country, is required if the Government is serious about embarking on a journey to net-zero carbon emissions.

“More than 800,000 rural homes are heated by oil and will need to transition to cleaner sources of power in coming years, such as heat pumps. But the Energy Saving Trust estimates that it costs £19,000 to install one pump, with the annual bill saving of using the technology just £20 a year. If Government does not help bring about a green transition for rural communities – which so often are first to suffer the impacts of climate change in this country – then we risk it never happening at all.”

It had been hoped that Chancellor Rishi Sunak would use the 2021 Budget or Tax Day to outline a replacement for the grant scheme, but this did not come to pass. The next major chances will be through the Heat and Buildings Strategy, due in the coming weeks, or at the Autumn Statement.

Sarah George

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