Green homes grant will meet only tiny fraction of target in England

The government’s flagship green homes grant scheme will help just 8% of its target 600,000 households switch to renewable energy by the end of March, analysis reveals.

The £2bn for the scheme is being withdrawn at the end of next month. Analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit thinktank reveals that at the current rate it will issue vouchers to just 49,000 members of the public by that time.

This equates to an annual carbon saving of 26,000 tonnes, or 0.4% of UK residential sector emissions.

In 2021-22 the chancellor has said a far smaller amount – £320m – will be available for the green homes grant programme. At the current rate of approval that would mean 124,000 households would be given grants to make their homes more energy efficient and less carbon intensive by March 2022, 20% of the promised 600,000 households.

The green grants for England were promoted by Boris Johnson as a key plank in his 10-point plan for a green recovery. Forty per cent of UK emissions come from households, and the government promised the programme would help 600,000 householders cut energy bills and CO2 emissions while supporting 100,000 jobs.

Householders can apply for vouchers of up to £5,000 or £10,000 depending on their circumstances, to help pay for installation of new heating systems and insulation.

Jess Ralston, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “It’s staggering to see the effects that pulling the green homes grant would have on the number of homes upgraded. It will be hugely disappointing to the hundreds of thousands of families set to miss out.

“The original aims – creating jobs, slashing energy bills and reducing carbon emissions – haven’t yet been met. Cutting support now will damage trust in future schemes without delivering any of these objectives.”

Long delays in issuing vouchers and paying installers have left many installers owed tens of thousands. Many have pulled out of the scheme and some householders have waited more than five months for the grants to install heat pumps and solar thermals to replace fossil fuel heating systems.

Members of the renewable energy industry have written to ministers calling for the green home grants to be maintained and enhanced as a key measure for reaching net zero by 2050. They say it is incredibly popular with homeowners keen to reduce energy costs and contribute to tackling climate change.

The signatories, from 19 organisations representing or working within the energy efficiency and low-carbon heating sector, said premature closure of the grants would put jobs in jeopardy, dash the dreams of homeowners and put the UK’s net zero target at significant risk.

Derek Horrocks, the chairman of the National Insulation Association, said: Stable policy is needed to provide the industry with the confidence it needs to invest and adapt to the demands of the net zero transition. Inquiries for insulation and low-carbon heating have been extremely high, in spite of the current circumstances, and companies across the sector have responded and geared up the supply chain to meet demand.

“That’s why we would urge the chancellor not to curtail the green homes grant to ensure that our sector can lead the UK’s economic recovery and meet the government’s net zero ambitions.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy blamed the low delivery figures on the coronavirus pandemic for making the public reluctant to let people into their homes – despite the evidence from installers of high demand.

“The green homes grant voucher scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic stimulus while tackling our contribution to climate change,” the spokesperson said.

“In his spending review, the chancellor announced £320m for the scheme in the next financial year, as part of funding to make homes and public buildings more energy efficient.”

The Guardian

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