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Industry calls for plan to fix the UK's Green Homes Grants scheme

Four industry organisations have joined together to propose a way forward for the UK government’s Green Homes Grants scheme. Launched last autumn, the scheme was meant to have funded up to two-thirds of the costs of energy performance improvements for 600,000 homes, but has suffered both delays and low deployment levels. 

The scheme was extended for a second year recently, but it has been reported that unspent funding from the first tranche of the programme will not be rolled over to the extended scheme in 2021–22.

Now, a survey of industry members involved in the installation of technologies eligible under the scheme has reinforced claims that administrative delays are behind the low deployment of a £1.5bn worth of vouchers. More than 100,000 vouchers have been applied for and millions of pounds worth of work already undertaken by installers but, to date, only around 20,000 vouchers have been issued and even fewer payments for completed work have been made, say the associations.

The four organisations – the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, Solar Energy UK, Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd and the Home Insulation and Energy Systems Quality Assured Contractors Scheme – have called on the government to implement a four-point plan to address the issues in the scheme:  
  • immediate acceleration of payments and processing of vouchers to address installers’ cashflow concerns and increase the pace of installations for consumers;
  • a greater administrative role established for the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, which has the expertise and existing relationships with installers, auditors and established consumer bodies in the zero-carbon home retrofitting market;
  • greater transparency of the auditing process – particularly the cost criteria of products and installation works should be made visible; and 
  • a commitment in the upcoming Budget to use all of the underspent 2020–21 budget in future years through a longer-term programme of zero-carbon retrofitting.

The four industry bodies surveyed 194 members, finding that almost three-quarters of survey respondents have completed work under the scheme. The remaining installers identify concerns with its operation as their main reason for not participating. Of those installers already working under the scheme, over three-quarters are concerned about the time it takes to receive voucher payments’ and over a third of respondents state that delays to scheme payments are threatening the viability of their businesses.

Separately, John Alker, Director of Policy and Places at the UK Green Building Council said: ‘The problems with the scheme have not been about consumer appetite, but with the scheme's administration, with householders having to wait months in some cases and installers having to wait similar amounts of time to get paid for works done. Stop-start policy of this kind is extremely counter-productive for businesses looking to invest in delivering a green recovery.’

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Countries: UK -

Subjects: Policy and Governance - Building - Energy efficiency -

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