The Public Accounts Committee said the scheme "was just a terrible waste of money and opportunity at a time when we can least afford it." Photo: Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images.
Ministers have said the UK's Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme did not deliver its goal of upgrading 600,000 to become energy efficient and said the programme was a failure. The government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy introduced the scheme in August last year to help homeowners with the cost of installing energy efficient improvements in their properties, and to boost employment.
To qualify for any home improvements, homeowners needed to be installing either insulation -- solid wall, cavity wall, underfloor, loft or roof -- or low-carbon heating, such as air source or ground source heat pumps, or solar thermal systems, the email explains. The voucher was meant to cover up to two-thirds of the cost of the improvements, with a maximum government contribution of GBP5,000 (£6,671). The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the scheme "underperformed badly", helping to upgrade only about 47,500 homes out of the 600,000 originally planned.
By August 2021, 52% of homeowners' voucher applications were rejected or withdrawn, and 46% of installer applications failed. PAC said the project accounted for just GBP314m of its original GBP1.5bn budget, GBP50m of which was administration costs. "It cost the taxpayer GBP50m just to administer the pointlessly rushed through Green Homes Grant scheme, which delivered a small fraction of its objectives, either in environmental benefits or the promised new jobs," said Meg Hillier, PAC chair.
Read more: Property: The pros and cons of building your own home She said the committee heard it can take four years to train specialists required to implement key parts of a scheme "that was dreamed up to be rolled out in 12 weeks." "It was never going to work at this time, in this way, and that should have been blindingly obvious to the department," she said, adding "I am afraid there is no escaping the conclusion that this scheme was a slam dunk fail."
She said a massive change is needed in the way buildings are heated, but that the scheme "was just a terrible waste of money and opportunity at a time when we can least afford it." Story continues The report described how the scheme's failure risks damaging the efforts of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which was behind it, "to harness consumer and industry action to deliver government's net zero commitments".
In 2019 the UK became the first major economy to pass laws to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
In April 2021, it enshrined an ambitious target to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 on 1990 levels into UK law.
Watch: Top tips for helping the environment on a tight budget