Cover image of Energy Efficiency of existing homes report

‘Botched’ Green Homes Grant needs urgent overhaul, says govt committee

The botched implementation of the Green Homes Grant is leaving the installers who do the work in limbo and causing damage to the sector, according to a scathing report by the government’s Environmental Audit Committee.

The industry has been bruised by stop-start policy and changed goalposts, and the government has significantly underestimated how much decarbonising the UK’s homes will cost, according to the committee’s fourth report, Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes.

The report says: “The Green Homes Grant is welcome, but has been poorly implemented, beset by administrative problems and delays which fundamentally jeopardise delivery of the scheme’s ambition.

“It is too short term and is now causing damage to the sector. The impact of its botched implementation has had devastating consequences on many of the builders and installers that can do the work, who have been left in limbo as a result of the orders cancelled and time taken to approve applications.”

It goes on to note that just 10 per cent of the target to improve 600,000 homes in six months has been reached and adds that the scheme needs to be overhauled to provide financial support to homeowners and build trust in the industry so that installers become accredited. This needs to be included in the forthcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy – due to be published by the end of Q2 – urgently.

The voucher scheme was launched in 2020 with £1.5 billion of funding for its vouchers and subsequently extended into 2022. However, it has become apparent that the original funding was only allocated for use in the 2020/21 financial year and that any funds may not be carried over to fund grants from April 2021, says the report. As of 8 February 2021, 22,165 vouchers had been issued to customers, with a value of £94.1 million.

The report says the grant has been rushed and poorly implemented, that the government failed to consult enough with the industry, set a timescale that was too short term, and presided over scheme administration that appears nothing short of disastrous. “We recommend that the Green Homes Grant scheme be urgently overhauled and extended to provide a genuine long-term stimulus to the domestic energy efficiency sector. The scheme should not be scrapped or quietly wound down. The Government must address the design and administration issues with the scheme, and all allocated funding that has not been spent by the end of March 2021 should be rolled over into the next financial year,” the committee recommends.

“A multi-annual scheme must be delivered to provide the financial support to owner occupiers and build trust within the industry to encourage installers to get accredited and enable companies to hire staff. In its response to this report, the Government should set out how it intends to revise the types of measures included in the scheme, streamline the application process, including the number of quotes required for application, and remove unnecessary bureaucracy at every step.”

The Environmental Audit Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to consider to what extent the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development; to audit their performance against such targets as may be set for them by the government and to report to the House.

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