MPs call for extension to Green Homes Grant
The UK government should extend the deadline for energy efficiency improvements under its Green Homes Grant after admitting that few vouchers have so far been issued for upgrades, MPs have said today.
Launched last September, the scheme gives households the opportunity to apply for vouchers that cover up to £10,000 of the cost for energy efficiency improvements, with all work having to be completed by 31 March 2022.
The government has promised to provide green upgrades – such as installing heat pumps and double glazing – for more than 600,000 homes.
However, in correspondence released today by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), business minister Lord Callanan has admitted that just 20,000 vouchers have been issued to date.
The cross-party group of MPs warned that it would take a decade to hit the 600,000 target at the current rate, and have called for a “multi-year extension” to the Green Homes Grant scheme's deadline.
“Issuing vouchers is continuing at snail’s pace,” said EAC chair Philip Dunne.
“Many of the builders and installers that can do the work are in limbo as a result of the time taken to approve applications, and perversely, we have heard evidence some are having to lay off skilled workers as orders have been stalled pending confirmation of vouchers.”
The EAC has also raised concern that a lack of skilled installation engineers risks undermining the government’s commitment to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.
A £6.9m skills competition is launching in September, however, this is only seven months ahead of the deadline for the Green Homes Grant, and so is unlikely to have an impact on the availability of
skilled engineers to make installations under the scheme.
Dunne said that the grant is urgently needed to stem carbon emissions and provide jobs post-COVID-19, but added: “Unless overhauled and further extended, this scheme will fail to deliver its ambition.
“It must streamline the application process by removing unnecessary bureaucracy and must make sure the supply of skills meets the demand that 600,000 vouchers, and a further boost by the chancellor in the March Budget, would drive.
“By doing so, it could make large strides towards meeting other government commitments, such as installing 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.”
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Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM