The Scrapping of The Green Homes Grant

The UK government has set some bold targets to reduce cardon emissions to tackle climate change, including legislation to end of the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2030, as well as announcing a range of grants and packages of support to help businesses and individuals make environmentally friendly choices to meet the wider objectives.

One of the schemes launched in the Autumn of 2020 was the Green Home Grant Scheme, which offered grants covering the costs of up to two-thirds of the value of specific energy efficient home improvements (capped at £5,000 per eligible household, or £10,000 if a homeowner is in receipt of specific benefits).

However, despite huge demand for the scheme, only six months later the Green Home Grant Scheme was scrapped and therefore no new applications were accepted.

For those who had already applied to the scheme, their application would still be reviewed, and any vouchers issued remained valid until either their expiry or the end of the March 2022, whichever date was earlier.
In this post we will explore why the scheme was closed ahead of schedule and the
challenges that were faced by all parties that were involved with the scheme including homeowners and suppliers.

 

Why did the Green Home Grant Close?

The government has not provided the main reason of why the Green Home Grant Scheme was scrapped, however there were several issues identified from all those involved with the scheme, which included:

 

Administration Issues

There was a complex process for homeowners to apply for vouchers that can be used as part of the scheme.

An applicant must have checked that they were eligible, research the home improvements that may be suitable for the property selecting at least one primary measure and then find a TrustMark registered installer to contact to request quotes before even applying to the scheme via the government website.

Strict Rules

The system was complicated further by additional rules regarding the primary and secondary measures.  A list was provided on the government’s website grouping the specific home improvements that the grant would support into either primary of secondary improvements or applicants were expected to select a suitable primary measure before opting for any secondary home improvements.

The value of the grant provided was defined by these measures, for example if multiple home improvements were planned, the value of grant for any secondary measures were capped by the grant provided for the primary measure, therefore restricting the choices of options and maximum usage of the scheme for some homeowners.
The level of rules was complex to navigate and provided restrictions to the type of home improvements that could be selected and the amount of grant that could be claimed, causing unnecessary obstacles to homeowners trying to make use of the scheme.

Supplier Accreditation Issues

Traders must have met the entry requirements for TrustMark, a government endorsed Quality scheme, ahead of the launch of the Green Home Grant Scheme to have been listed as an approved supplier on the government’s website.

Traders would require a provider to support their application to TrustMark and must meet the TrustMark framework of operating requirements, however some suppliers found the process of achieving the accreditation challenging especially during covid restrictions.

 

Demand and Timescales

The businesses that were Trust Mark accredited and listed as approved to partake in the scheme were swamped with requests to complete works due to the demand generated by the scheme.

In some cases, due to the levels of work involved, the accredited traders could not accommodate all orders under the timeframes set by the vouchers, as they are valid for three months from the date of issue.

The voucher could often be extended however this would involve liaising with the admin team from the Green Home Grant Scheme, however an extension of the voucher expiry date would not guarantee works could be completed if the supplier was inundated.

 

What Funding Options Remain for Energy Efficient Home Improvements?

With the Green Home Grant Scheme now closed without a similar replacement option, most funding options will depend on the personal circumstances of the homeowner.

The Government has advised that £300m of funding initially allocated for the Green Home Grant Scheme will be redistributed to local authorities to support low-income households with implementing energy efficient improvements.

If the homeowner is elderly, disabled or has a low income there may be options via the Home Improvement Agency, however this option also depends on the location of the property and the local Council.

As outlined by EnergyGuide.org.uk Another option for specific types of homeowners should they meet the relevant criteria, could be the Disabled facilities grants, that are also managed by local Councils.

Other government support such as the warm home discount scheme, cold weather payments or winter fuel payments may also provide support to eligible households however such schemes are designed to aid with fuel costs rather than funding energy efficient home improvements.

 

What’s the future for green funding?

With an increasing spotlight on worldwide climate change following the wildfires in Australia and the US over recent years, continuous record-breaking temperatures as well as flooding in Europe, becoming more energy efficient is on the top agenda for many.

In addition, The UK is due to host the UN Climate COP26 talks in the Autumn, bringing the world’s focus on the ever more important topic to the UK at a time when the UK government have withdrawn Green Homes Grant Scheme without a similar alterative grant funding option.

The withdrawal of the scheme has come as a blow to homeowners and businesses alike as there is not a replacement option that is widely available in order to make energy efficient home improvements to properties, leaving most homeowners having to self-fund improvements.

Demand for the scheme was not the concern, however the complication of the administration, strict rules and timeframes to get the works completed were challenges faced by all parties involved in the scheme, which hopefully the government will acknowledge and address before launching a replacement grant scheme in future.

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