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22 Mar 2021 | 11:53

UK's green homes grant in need of rescue after 'botched' administration

(Sharecast News) - MPs announced on Monday that the UK government's scheme for green home insulation was botched by a disastrous administration and is in urgent need of rescue. MPs said the scheme was "rushed in conception and poorly implemented ... [the] scheme administration appears nothing short of disastrous".

They added: "The impact of its botched implementation has had devastating consequences on many of the builders and installers that can do the work, who have been left in limbo as a result of the orders cancelled and time taken to approve applications."

Under the green homes grant, homeowners can apply for vouchers for up to £5,000, or £10,000, to cover most of the cost of installing insulation and other energy efficiency measures, and low-CO2 heat pumps. But the scheme has encountered problems from the outset, with builders complaining of the bureaucracy involved in registering for the scheme and tens of thousands of homeowners frustrated in their applications.

According to the Environmental Audit Committee, the government is failing to grasp the enormous challenge of decarbonising the UK's housing stock which currently accounts for 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions.

The government underestimated the costs to decarbonise the homes, at between £35bn and £65bn.

"However, this does not include properties such as those with solid walls, or those in conservation areas which could make energy efficiency installations more challenging. 19 million UK properties need energy efficiency upgrades to meet EPC band C, and the EAC heard in evidence that it can cost on average £18,000 (before a heat pump installation). Therefore, the cost is likely to be far greater than the Government's estimate."

The EAC is also concerned that the government has announced just over £4bn of the £9.2bn that it committed to in the 2019 manifesto for energy efficiency measures.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Philip Dunne MP, said: "Government investment to improve energy efficiency has been woefully inadequate. The £9bn that the Government pledged at the election was welcome, but 16 months on, there appears to be no plan nor meaningful delivery. Funding allocated for the Green Homes Grant has not been spent, with only £125m worth of vouchers - of the £1.5bn budget - issued."

"Further schemes that endure must be rolled out, boosting the government's credibility with householders and their contractors, that it is determined to decarbonise the nation's homes," he added.

"This will give confidence to businesses that they can invest in upskilling and green jobs ... Realism needs to be injected into the government. A much better understanding of cost, pace, scale and feasibility of skills development is desperately needed for net zero Britain."
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