Green Homes Grant was rushed, frustrating and didn’t listen to installers, says NAO report

The short-lived Green Homes Grant voucher scheme was rushed, frustrating for installers and homeowners and had limited impact on job creation, a report by the National Audit Office has found.

The report examined the performance, implementation, procurement and management of the scheme against what it described as a backdrop of previous problematic attempts by the government to implement domestic energy efficiency schemes.

Among its findings were that the scheme did not deliver the expected number of home energy efficiency installations or support the expected number of jobs. There were high levels of interest in the grant, but many homeowners and installers had a poor experience of using the scheme and made more than 3,000 complaints.

There was frustration about the delay in issuing and paying vouchers: the requirements were complicated and difficult to get right first time, says the report.

People had trouble finding certified installers, who were required to be registered with TrustMark as well as PAS or MCS certified. With the scheme scheduled to last just six months, installers were reluctant to invest in gaining these further accreditations. Just 248 TrustMark accredited installers gained the additional required certification out of a potential 880, which meant that it was difficult for some homeowners to take part in the scheme.

The government didn’t fully understand the challenges facing installers before it announced the scheme, and hadn’t learned from previous schemes, says the report. The scheme was announced in July 2020 but the government only consulted with installers after this, despite previous recommendations that energy efficiency schemes should be designed following a robust evaluation of stakeholders’ views.

The report says installers reported frustrations about the complexity of both the scheme and in gaining additional registration and certification. The costs of this and the scheme’s planned short duration put some off from taking part.

The scheme was launched in September 2020 to coincide with the expected end of furlough support at that time, and to maximise the number of installations before winter. The March 2021 end date was intended to act as a stimulus to get people to use the scheme as quickly as possible. However, these dates were over-ambitious for BEIS to design the scheme, consult with stakeholders, find an administrator and launch.

The Green Homes Grant voucher scheme ran from September 2020 to March 2021, offering homeowners the chance to apply for up to £10,000 to install energy efficiency improvements and low-carbon heat sources in their homes. Homeowners had to find a certified installer and apply for vouchers, with the installer receiving grant funding once they had fitted the measure.

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