Confusion and delays hamper Green Homes Grant scheme

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The government’s initiative for the Green Homes Grant should be commended, but it is “already clear that the scheme is not going to achieve its initial targets”, says the House of Commons environmental audit committee

The environmental audit committee carried out a survey to monitor the progress of the Green Homes Grant scheme.

In total, 510 people responded to the survey. 86% of those had a poor experience with the process, with just over half who those applying finding the Green Homes Grant eligibility calculator helpful.

However, after checking eligibility and applying for the grant, many people experienced delays in receiving responses to their applications leading to some quotes expiring.

At the time of the survey being conducted between 2 and 16 November, 6 to 8 weeks after the scheme was launched on 30 September, only 5.6% of respondents had received a voucher for energy efficiency measures to be installed.

Many found that they were unable to install the measures they required, with confusion over primary and secondary measures (with the eligibility for the latter requiring the former to have been installed).

The environmental audit committee heard during evidence by the UK Green Building Council that there was a problem with sequencing since draught-proofing and heating controls are secondary measures, which would be wise to install prior to putting in a heat pump.

An additional 75% of respondents found it difficult to find a TrustMark registered contractor to carry out the works, with responses describing how contractors were either unaware of the scheme or were not prepared to sign up to it.

This lack of engagement was endorsed by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) who indicated that the industry had not been consulted on the design of the scheme.

Contractors who were TrustMark accredited for installations under the scheme have been inundated with requests, demonstrating a capacity problem which suggests the original target is at risk of not being met.

‘Clear up the confusion’

Environmental audit committee chairman, Philip Dunne, said: “The government’s initiative for the Green Homes Grant should be commended. However, if we are to succeed in carrying out the amount of energy efficiency upgrades in homes that are needed, it is already clear that the scheme is not going to achieve its initial targets.

“Homes emit an astonishing 20% of the UK’s CO2, and we cannot come close to reaching net-zero without seriously addressing energy efficiency concerns in our existing building stock.

“Now the scheme has been extended, which is very welcome, I hope the government learns from this initial feedback gleaned by my committee.

“It must make swift improvements to reviewing applications promptly; ensuring there are enough TrustMark accredited contractors; and to clear up the confusion between primary and secondary measures.”

The environmental audit committee (EAC) has written to energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng following the EAC’s recent survey on early attempts to access the Green Homes Grant.

The EAC has requested details of what improvements will be made now the scheme has been extended to March 2022.

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