Government scraps Green Homes Grant voucher scheme after six months

The stricken £1.5 billion scheme will close at 5pm on 31 March after reaching a fraction of the 600,000 homes it was meant to improve.
A man installing wool insulation into a home.

The government has quietly scrapped its flagship Green Homes Grant voucher scheme just six months after the scheme’s launch.

The voucher element of the Green Homes Grant (GHG), which had been expected to cost £1.5 billion, will close at 5pm on 31 March after reaching a fraction of the 600,000 homes it was meant to improve.

The scheme had invited homeowners and residential landlords to apply for vouchers towards the cost of energy saving upgrades and low-carbon heating schemes.

Over 96,000 applications have been made through the voucher scheme, but only around 39,000 vouchers have so far been issued. The government expects to issue vouchers worth a total of £300 million by the time applications close.

The voucher element of the scheme will be replaced with £300 million of extra funding for councils to deliver green improvements to homes in England.

The business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP 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.

“This latest announcement takes our total energy efficiency spending to over £1.3 billion 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.”

The government’s dropping of the GHG is a tacit acknowledgement of the issues with the voucher element of the scheme, which has been plagued with problems since its launch last September.

Widespread delays in people accessing the scheme initially led the government to extend it by one year last November to March 2022. However, it appears the government has now admitted defeat as far as the voucher element is concerned.

The £500 million Local Authority Delivery strand of the GHG has been already handed out to councils so they can make green improvements to households with incomes under £30,000.

This element of the GHG is still set to be extended, with councils due to be invited to submit applications for the second round of funding later this year.

However, critics have warned that decarbonising private homes is crucial if the UK is to meet its commitment of eliminating its contribution to climate change by 2050.

Ed Matthew, campaign director at the climate change think tank E3G, told the BBC: “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.”

The shadow minster for climate change Matthew Pennycook MP added: “Ministers may talk a good game [on energy efficiency] but their staggering ineptitude when it comes to decarbonising the country’s housing stock speaks for itself.”

Image: The Green Homes Grant covers the cost of home improvements such as insulation. Credit: Pixabay

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