Budget 2021: Green Homes Grant success pivotal for a green recovery
Let’s not risk nearly 200,000 green jobs as we pound the path to the decarbonisation of our homes and net zero, says MIMA | Credit: Adobe
Now is not the time for the UK to risk undermining its credibility on the global stage at the COP26 and G7 summits, by allowing a keystone green stimulus measure to fail.
The Green Homes Grant could be a missed opportunity. Fact.
Will the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, take a hasty decision at the Budget on 3rd March to claw back the essential funding or drop the policy entirely?
A policy in its infancy that industry has invested in quickly – in money, jobs and skills.
An industry that has been revving up, certifying, training, employing and promoting the grant and is on the cusp of delivering at scale. All on the basis of the promise of significant guaranteed funding to March 2022. We hope not.
We hear voices from government saying that the problem with the scheme is with take-up and there’s not enough consumer demand.
To the contrary, the scheme has been met with high levels of consumer demand, even amid the pandemic.
Polling showed that two-thirds of homeowners in England are interested in the grants. Over 103,000 vouchers have been applied for. However, only 21% have had vouchers issued, 2,777 measures have been installed and just 904 vouchers have been paid.
We hear the government’s response that that this was only ever meant to be a ‘short term stimulus measure’ and Ministerial comments that the underspend will not be rolled over. These comments are at odds with earlier signals that the Government would support the scheme into the long-term.
When the Government committed to extend the scheme for a year, it was noted: “The PM’s extension for the Green Homes Grant is until the end of March 2022 for the £1.5bn voucher element, and until the end of December 2021 for the £500m Local Authority Delivery element.”. This commitment – which provided much-needed confidence to industry to continue investing in the scheme – now appears to have been rescinded.
Now is the time to invest – not to withdraw funding – and continue working constructively with us to make the Green Homes Grant scheme the long-term success that it deserves to be.
Across the energy efficiency sector, we are fully aware that there have been early teething problems with the new scheme and these were anticipated before the scheme was up and running and were repeatedly voiced to government.
Issues with the execution and delivery of the Green Homes Grant – including delays in processing vouchers, an overly complex customer journey and delayed payments to installers for works undertaken – are all taking their toll on an already bruised industry.
Whilst we continue to engage constructively with BEIS to offer solutions to ensure the scheme can deliver its full potential, there are immediate steps that Government can take to resolve the administrative problems. These include settling late payments to installers as a matter of urgency, streamlining the application process to ensure a greater number of vouchers are issued, and protecting consumers by maintaining quality assurances such as TrustMark accreditation. All workable, all doable.
We must push through these issues as the knock-on impact that withdrawing the unallocated portion of the £1.5bn funding would be detrimental and fundamentally undermine the confidence of businesses, financial institutions and consumers to invest in green homes. It could result in jobs losses among firms who have invested in the scheme, with delayed payments to installers already putting jobs at stake. Instead, let the success of the Local Authority Delivery element of the scheme further show that now is not the time to halt momentum on the green home agenda.
Let’s not forget that we have been clear about this from the start - that any stimulus measures must be long-term, with a sustainable exit-strategy.
Only long-term certainty and sustained investment from government can give industry the confidence to invest in the skills and supply chain needed to deliver on a green recovery and create jobs across the country.
Only this can provide the economic, social and environmental benefits associated with green homes, support the Government’s important levelling up agenda and make real progress towards achieving the net zero target.
Mr Chancellor, now is not the time for the UK to risk undermining its credibility on the global stage at the COP26 and G7 summits by allowing a keystone green stimulus measure to fail.
Mr Chancellor, now is the time to invest in the sector – not to withdraw funding – and continue working constructively with us to make this scheme the long-term success that it deserves to be.
Let’s not risk nearly 200,000 green jobs as we pound the path to the decarbonisation of our homes and net zero.