The Green Homes Grant (GHG) is set to be axed from Wednesday, less than six months after launching to help tens of thousands of low-income households save money on energy bills. The much-promoted energy-saving scheme is due to be scrapped this week amid a string of government failures that have led to a take up of just 10% of the 600,000 homes it promised to improve. The scheme will be stopped on Wednesday and the GBP300million budget allocated to a separate insulation fund run by councils for low income households instead.
It comes after a series of delays to the scheme, which the government largely blamed on the public - claiming households were reluctant to having tradesmen enter their homes during the Covid crisis. However, in some parts of the country installers said they were overwhelmed with demand, with some citing delays in receiving funding from the government.(C) Getty Applications are still open
Hold-ups were so time consuming that some installers had to lay off staff while others went out of business. Customers also say they were locked out of the scheme after attempting to apply, with many forced to 'jump though hoops' to get the support signed off.
Jose De Barros, a retired 54-year-old, applied for the Green Homes Grant in September. He said it seemed "straightforward" at first, but almost seven months later, he's still waiting for his voucher. "The system itself was quite clear at first," he told The Mirror.
"It wasn't until I tried to arrange for some quotes that I realised the people helping to deliver the scheme weren't trained to do it." Mr De Barros said he was told to resubmit his form several times due to it arriving in the "wrong format". "They then said there were issues with my driving licence, credit check and address.
It felt like they were just stalling it. It's been an absolute farce." From this week, the scheme will now be replaced by a local council initiative that will prioritise housing associations and people on state support.
On announcing the move, Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, said: "Upgrading the country's homes with energy efficiency measures means we can cut emissions and save people money on their energy bills. "Today's funding boost will mean even more households across England are able to access these vital grants through their local authority.Rishi Sunak unveils GBP2b Green Homes GrantWhat to watch next Click to expand Replay Video
"This latest announcement takes our total energy efficiency spending to over GBP1.3bn in the next financial year, giving installers the certainty they need to plan ahead, create new jobs and train the next generation of builders, plumbers and tradespeople." Greenpeace UK described the rollout of the GHG scheme as "shambolic".
The organisation's Kate Blagojevic said the "biggest hole" in England's energy efficiency was private households and you can't "boost the situation with a smaller pot of money". She added: "The government is plain wrong to try and frame it as such." Ed Matthew, from climate change think tank E3G said: "The end of the government's flagship green homes scheme is a tragedy that was avoidable.
"There was plenty of demand for the grants but the scheme was plagued by incompetent administration. The reality is that we can't get to net-zero without decarbonising our homes."
What happens to applications that are in process?
The scheme is still in place until Wednesday meaning applications are still being processed and accepted - but you don't have long. A statement read: "Following a review, the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme launched last year will close to new applications on 31 March at 5pm.
"Applications made before the end of March deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued may be extended upon request." That means homeowners need to get applying as soon as possible if they want to make Wednesday's deadline.
What can I spent the vouchers on?
Improvements include insulating your home to reduce your energy use or installing low-carbon heating to lower the amount of carbon dioxide your home produces. The available measures are split into 'primary' and 'secondary' measures.
The voucher must be used to install at least one primary measure.
This can be an insulation measure and/or a low carbon heating measure. Insulation measures: The following insulation measures are covered by the voucher:
- solid wall
- under floor
- cavity wall
- flat roof
- room in roof
- insulating a park home
Low carbon heat measures:
The following low carbon heating measures are covered by the voucher:
- air or ground source heat pump
- solar thermal (liquid filled flat plate or evacuated tube collectors)
- biomass boilers
If you install at least 1 primary measure, your voucher can be used to help cover the cost of any of the following secondary measures:
- draught proofing
- double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazed windows)
- secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing)
- external energy efficient doors (replacing single glazed or solid doors installed before 2002)
- heating controls
- hot water tank thermostats and insulation
The scheme cannot be used to cover expenses such as building an extension, conservatory or installing a gas boiler, however it can be used to "top up" improvements in these areas.
Who can apply for a Green Homes Grant voucher?
Any owner occupiers or landlords in England can apply for the GBP5,000 vouchers, although new-build properties that have not been occupied before are not eligible. People who qualify for the low-income scheme (who get the bigger grant of up to GBP10,000) must be in receipt of government benefits.
How to apply
To apply, you must first use the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website to see what energy-saving improvements can be made to your home. The SEA website will then bring up accredited tradespeople in your area that can undertake the work - it's recommended that you get at least three quotes to make sure you're getting the best price.
Once you've found a price, apply for the voucher, you can apply for the vouchers on the Gov.uk website.
You should only agree for the work to go ahead once your application for the voucher has been accepted.