After reaching just 10% of the 600,000 homes that the government had targeted for help, the £300 million Green Homes Grant has been withdrawn. The scheme’s budget will be reallocated into separate insulation funds run by local authorities to help lower income households.
The Green Homes Grant was fraught with problems. In some areas low take up was the problem while in others contractors were overwhelmed with enquiries and some hugely overcharged for their work. Payments to contractors were delays because of overly stringent checks and there were frustrations at government level with the US consultants tasked with managing part of the scheme.
Running parallel to the Green Homes Grant, a scheme administered by local authorities for low income households has proved more successful. However, to encourage home owners who are able to pay towards the home improvements, some changes will need to be made to the programme.
Home insulation improvements are necessary to meet the UK’s climate change targets.
Campaigners are calling for a long-term scheme to encourage installer confidence and to build up expertise. Some firms actually went out of business after signing up to the Green Homes Grant or simply withdrew from the sector due to the problems.
Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Upgrading the country’s homes with energy efficiency measures means we can cut emissions and save people money on their energy bills. Today’s funding boost will mean even more households across England are able to acces these vital grants through their local authority.
Choosing not to refer to the failure of the Green Homes Grant, Mr Kwarteng said that over £1.3 billion would be spent in the next financial year which would give installers “the certainty they need to plan ahead, create new jobs and train the next generation of builders, plumbers and tradespeople”.
A letter signed by a number of high profile organisations was sent to government in February. It said that to deliver at the scale and pace required to meet climate targets called for streamlined, improved and simplified administration of the grant while rolling over the budget underspend and setting out a long-term programme that would support the supply chain.
How private households, that are able to pay for greener energy, will be persuaded to spend money on improving energy efficiency is yet to be resolved.