The Goverment's flagship Green Homes Grant scheme is set to be another glorious failure as the bulk of the much heralded £2bn scheme announced in July last year is to be withdrawn at the end of this financial year.
This scheme, launched at the end of September and contracted out to an American company to deliver, was set to kickstart the UK’s post Covid green recovery. Announcing the scheme in July, Boris Johnson said it would support ‘hundreds of thousands’ of green jobs and be a key part of achieving the ambition of a zero carbon economy by 2050
Unrealistic time frame
In November 2020, when announcing his 10 point plan, Johnson said that the scheme would be extended a year to 2022. This was necessary because the original scheme gave eligible householders and registered installers just 6 months to apply and get the work done in order to get paid by the scheme. Since there was a shortage of qualified installers, not to mention supply problems in the time of Brexit, the original time frame was totally unrealistic.
A badly design scheme poorly administered
It was announced in February in a Parliamentary answer from Business Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelian, that any underspend in the fund since September 2020 will not be carried forward into the next financial year, meaning that 95% of the ‘flagship’ green fund is to be clawed back by the Treasury. Johnson, playing his usual blame game, claimed that this was because there was no uptake from homeowners.
This is utter nonsense. The UK has one of the oldest housing stocks in the world with 38% of homes predating 1946.  Most of these are energy inefficient and many new houses fail to reach adequate insulation standards. Who would not want to cut their fuel bills while at the same time maintaining a comfortable temperature in their home? The demand is there, it is the failure of the Government to ensure delivery that is missing.
The real reason for the poor uptake is that the scheme is complex to navigate, the restrictions are considerable and qualified help is scarce. Poor administration of the scheme has led to installers are not getting paid even for work completed and they are leaving the scheme and laying off staff. Even with grant aid, if it ever turns up, home owners still have to commit to a significant payment from their own funds.
This much heralded flagship scheme has turned out to be little more than a con, It has committed homeowners and businesses to considerable outlay of funds on the promise of financial support that has been withdrawn before the scheme was able to get into its stride. Far from creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, it has put some renewables installers in danger of bankruptcy and caused lay offs in the sector.
UK homes not fit for the future
The Government's own Committee on Climate Change passed a scathing verdict on the UK housing stock in 2019 stating in its key message that ‘UK homes are not fit for the future.’ It noted that ,’ just 1% of new homes in 2018 were Energy Performance Certificate band A.’ This was because the Government has weakened building standards and failed to support home improvement schemes with adequate funding.
This matters to us in the High Peak in the middle of an exceptionally cold winter. Many of our houses are pre-1946 and difficult to insulate, owners need help to upgrade their properties to meet new circumstances as the climate changes. There is also a lot of new building in the High Peak, but the developers have been allowed to build these homes to substandard energy standards. Now the cost of retrofilling these will be high and will fall on the homeowners.
The upgrading of the housing stock is an investment in the future. It will save money for both the householders and the country. The Government is impressing no one with its dither and U turns. Since the UK is hosting the Climate Summit in November, it has to get a grip on its environment and energy policies now and deliver on its promises.