The UK’s insulation industry has called for the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme to be extended, warning that its short timescale risks limiting its success.
The National Insulation Association, which represents the UK’s insulation industry, wrote to the chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this week, warning that an extension to the £2 billion scheme is ‘urgently required’ for it to be successful.
The NIA says that unless the grant is extended beyond its current end-date of 31 March 2021, it will not last long enough to have the impact on energy efficiency and job creation that the government hopes.
Derek Horrocks, chair of the National Insulation Association said: “Four and a half months from the point at which the first vouchers will be issued is not enough time to deliver on the government’s aspirations for energy efficiency and job creation.
“We are heading into winter – a time of year which already creates weather challenges for many green home improvements. On top of this, the nation and the workforce are still grappling with the impacts of a pandemic. It is vital that the scheme is extended to ensure that opportunities are not missed.”
The Green Homes Grant, launched on 30 September, allows homeowners and residential landlords to apply for vouchers towards the cost of installing green home improvements.
Under the scheme, the government will fund up to two-thirds of the cost of works such as low-carbon heating installation and loft and wall insulation, up to a maximum of £5,000.
£1.5 billion of the scheme will be handed out through vouchers, while the remaining £500 million has been assigned for local authorities to provide improvements for households with incomes below £30,000.
The government hopes that the scheme will support over 100,000 green jobs in construction and make over 600,000 homes more energy efficient.
The NIA says that while its members have been ‘inundated’ with enquiries about the scheme, the short three-month validity of the vouchers and the March 2021 cut-off date for the completion of works may cause uptake to be much lower than the 600,000 home target.
“As the timescales decrease further, homeowners may lose trust in the incentive and be less inclined to apply for the vouchers,” read the NIA’s letter to the chancellor. “This presents a real risk that many of the vouchers will be left unclaimed and that much-needed energy saving opportunities will be missed.”
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) played down the NIA’s concerns, clarifying that the scheme is open for five months with the first vouchers set to be issued at the start of November this year.
A BEIS spokesperson said: “The Green Homes Grant scheme is time-limited to give the economy an immediate boost by supporting tens of thousands of jobs to make over 600,000 homes warmer and cheaper to heat.
“The potential funding for future years will be determined in due course.”
Last week, the UK Energy Research Centre warned that at current rates, it will take 700 years for the UK to move to low-carbon heating, while the UK needs to upgrade 19,000 homes a week to hit its target of becoming net zero by 2050.