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The Green Homes Grant scheme is closing on 31 March 2021. New applicants must apply by 5pm on 31 March 2021.
The Government announced on 27 March 2021 that the scheme was to close and that £300 million of funding for energy efficiency and low carbon heating schemes for lower income households was to be delivered through local authorities in England in 2021/22.
The remainder of this article was written prior to the announcement (with the exception of the Enquiries, appeals and complaints guidance) and will be updated shortly.
The Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme (GHGVS) provides vouchers towards the cost of installing energy efficient improvements in eligible homes. This article aims to address some of the questions constituents may have on the scheme.
The GHGVS was announced by the Government in July 2020 and opened for applications in September 2020.
The GHGVS was originally intended to end in March 2021 with a budget of £2 billion. This comprised £500m of funding for the Local Authority Delivery (LAD) element and £1.5 billion of funding originally allocated to the GHGVS for use in the 2020/21 financial year. The Government announced in November 2020 that the GHGVS would be extended by a year until March 2022.
However, the Government has since suggested a more limited future for the GHGVS. In February 2021, in response to a parliamentary question, the Government said the full funding of the scheme would not be rolled over into the 2021-22 financial year, with £320 million allocated for 2021-22.This would mean that although the GHGVS would continue until March 2022, there would be less funding.
It has also been reported that instead of not rolling over the funding, the Government are planning on scrapping the scheme entirely (The Times, £1.5 billion Green Homes Grant faces axe after a year, 19 February 2021 – paywall).
At the time of writing the Government have not confirmed the future of the scheme.
Details of the scheme
The GHGVS issues vouchers for two thirds of the cost of eligible energy efficiency measures. The Government has published guidance on the GHGVS. The key points are reproduced below.
The Government guidance sets out that the available measures are split into “primary” and “secondary” categories. Households will need to install at least one primary measures to qualify for funding.
The ‘primary’ measures are:
- Insulation: Solid wall, cavity wall, under-floor, loft, roof, park home.
- Low-carbon heat: Air source heat pump, ground source heat pump, solar thermal. (For low-carbon heating to be installed, households will need to have adequate insulation (e.g. wall and loft, where applicable). These can be installed as part of a package – they do not have to already be in situ).
The guidance continues that as long as there is at least one primary measure in the package of works, households will also be able to install secondary measures. The secondary measures are:
- Draught proofing
- Windows and doors: Double/triple glazing (where replacing single glazing), secondary glazing (in addition to single glazing), upgrading to energy efficient doors (where replacing doors installed prior to 2002).
- Heating controls and insulation: appliance thermostats, hot water tank thermostats, hot water tank insulation, smart heating controls, zone controls, delayed start thermostat, thermostatic radiator valves
The guidance stresses that secondary measures can only be subsidised up to the amount of subsidy provided for primary measures. (e.g. if a household receives £1,000 for primary measures, they can only receive a maximum of £1,000 towards secondary measures).
The GHGVS is split into two categories of eligibility;
- a general scheme for all households with vouchers up to £5,000
- a low-income scheme with vouchers up to £10,000
There are eligibility requirements relating to home ownership and age of property applying to both schemes.
To be eligible for the low-income scheme, recipients must be in receipt of one of the specific benefits. The Government has an eligibility tool for constituents to assess if they are eligible. The guidance sets out details on eligibility.
Use of Green Home Grant and other schemes
The Government has several energy efficiency and heating support schemes. The guidance explains using the GHGVS in combination with other schemes:
- The GHGVS cannot be used in addition to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme for the same measure, but can be used for separate measures.
- Both the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the GHGVS can be claimed for a renewable heat installation.
- Recipients of grants from their local authority as part of the Local Authority Delivery Scheme may not apply for a Green Home Grant.
To take part in the GHGVS, tradespeople must register for accreditation through either TrustMark or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Accreditation requires all installers to demonstrate their compliance with the relevant standards, as well as ensuring that sufficient consumer protection processes and guarantees are in place.
Accessing the scheme
Local Authority Delivery scheme
Of the originally announced £2 billion funding for the scheme, up to £500 million was intended for delivery through local authorities in a Local Authority Delivery (LAD) scheme. Local authorities can bid for funding under this scheme to improve the energy efficiency of low-income households in their area.
Enquiries, appeals and complaints
The Government published correspondence procedure, How to get in touch with the Green Homes Grant scheme, on 31 March 2021, which explains how to get in touch with the Green Homes Grant scheme, including how to make a complaint and how to appeal a decision if a voucher application has been declined.
Statistics on the scheme
Official Statistics on Green Homes Grant vouchers are published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The releases include data and analysis on:
- measures installed
- voucher applications
- household applications
At the date of publication, the latest release to be published was on 18 March 2021. Some key points are:
- To the end of February 2021, the GHGV scheme received over 82,800 applications.
- Of all applications, 12 per cent withdrawn or rejected, resulting in nearly 72,700 live applications. Of these live applications, 52 per cent were approved.
Comment on the scheme
While the GHGVS’s announcement was welcomed by stakeholders, there has been concern about some administrative issues with the scheme’s delivery including:
- The availability of installers in some regions
- The time taken for vouchers to be issued
- The time taken for installers to be paid by the scheme.
In addition, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee undertook a survey of those who had tried to use the scheme and also heard evidence from the Federation of Master Builders. As a result of the concerns raised in this review, in December 2020, the Committee chair wrote a letter to the then Minister for Energy Kwasi Kwarteng MP. The letter raised some of the issues highlighted above, in addition to the short original length of the scheme. The scheme was then extended to March 2022.
Since it has been reported that the Government are considering scrapping the scheme, several stakeholders in the industry have called on the Government to maintain the scheme. For example a letter signed by think tanks and NGOs said cancelling the scheme would jeopardize the green recovery. They argued there was demand for the scheme and the administrative issues should be solved.
Information on existing support for consumer insulation, heating and renewable energy, is available in the Library article on Help with heating and energy efficiency.
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.