£1.5BILLION green housing scheme collapses in just 6 months due to rushing claims Tory MP05/17/2021
Green Britain: John Ingham and Dale Vince discuss campaign
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The construction industry yesterday called on the Government to replace it with a long-term scheme worth £9.2billion – six times as much – to slash the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Brian Berry, the chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said the construction industry had a Retrofit Strategy ready. He added: “To make this possible, the Government must bring forward the full £9.2billion pledged in their manifesto to support green home improvements.”
The GHG scheme was launched last September as part of an emergency package to help create jobs.
Households could get vouchers worth up to £10,000 towards the cost of measures such as double glazing, ground source heat pumps and insulation.
But in March it was scrapped – and only a fraction of the money had been spent. The most recent figures show that vouchers issued totalled £125million – eight per cent of the budget.
By last month vouchers had been approved for 52,887 households – barely 10 per cent of the goal of 600,000 homes in six months. The demand was there, with 113,000 vouchers applied for, but the scheme suffered from snail’s pace bureaucracy.
Instead of creating jobs, the delays led to firms laying off staff.
Housing accounts for 20 per cent of all UK emissions, and over the next 29 years 19 million homes will need to be retrofitted with insulation, heat pumps and other measures if the country is to meet its target of being zero carbon by 2050.
Mr Dunne said: “The GHG was introduced in July last year to help cope with Covid. The Government wanted to stimulate employment.
“But the scheme was rushed out and it had not been adequately prepared with the trade.
“It was overly bureaucratic and created too many hurdles that had to be jumped, which in turn led to contractors having doubts about taking part and very few vouchers being issued.”
Mr Dunne said an example of the lack of preparation was the skills shortage among installers.
He explained: “There are about 100,000 businesses certified to install gas boilers but there are only about 1,300 certified to install air or ground source heat pumps.
“We need a multi-year scheme that gives confidence to contractors and consumers that it is here to stay. It needs to be carefully thought out and enduring if we are going to get to 19 million homes by 2050. We have got 29 years so that’s 650,000 a year.”
Mr Berry said: “With the GHG the Government did not check with the industry about how many people were qualified to do the work, so there was a shortage of installers.
“We want a strategy for the next 20 years and an agency coordinating it. To make all this possible, the Government must bring forward the £9.2billion pledged in their manifesto.”
Michael Lewis, the UK chief executive of power firm E.ON, said the GHG was simply too complex.
“It left homeowners very much to themselves when it came to finding the right solution and a trusted supplier to do the job.”
The Department for Business, Energy And Industrial Strategy said: “The voucher scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic stimulus while tackling our contribution to climate change.
“It has already awarded over £248million for energy efficiency upgrades, 60 per cent of which went to low income households.
“We are investing £9billion during the course of this parliament to improve the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals, while supporting hundreds of thousands of skilled green jobs.”
Green homes in numbers
The case for Government help in making our homes energy efficient is simple – let the numbers tell the story.
- 20 percent – of UK emissions are from housing
- 29 million – number of UK homes
- 19 million – number of UK homes that need to be made energy efficient
- 2050 – deadline for UK to be Net Zero by eliminating or offsetting all its emissions
- 655,000 – homes a year need to be retrofitted to meet the 2050 target
- £20,000 – cost of the average retrofit
- £10,000 – Government estimate of cost of a retrofit
- £436 – average annual energy bill saving per retrofit
- 2p off income tax – the equivalent saving on bills
- £1.4billion – annual saving to NHS from an end to cold, damp homes
Comment by Dale Vince
THE green homes grant scheme was just six months old when it ended in abject failure. But why?
Fundamentally, for applications and contractors, the red tape was so complex as to be impenetrable.
Given the aim was to drop £1.5billion into an almost non-existent market, in a pandemic, only allowing six months seems impatient at best.
It’s a perfect case study in how not to succeed. Complex rules, no flexibility and no patience.
It’s easier to “win” a £200million PPE contract from this Government than get a grant for home insulation for £5,000.
Home insulation makes so much sense – we get big reductions in energy use and therefore bills and carbon emissions, along with the stimulation of new industries and green job creation.
It can be done far more simply. Earlier this year our Zero4Zero campaign called for VAT to be set at zero for any low carbon materials and technology.
As part of that I wrote to the Chancellor and a few days ago I heard back – the answer illustrating the fundamental problem that killed the grant scheme: an overly complex approach.
The letter says that while the Government understands the case for reducing VAT on low carbon things, it’s OK because there’s already a reduction to 5 per cent for solar panels. That’s provided the equipment costs less than 60 per cent of the whole cost and if not then it’s 5 per cent on labour only – and there’s a host of exceptions.
It’s almost too complicated to read but, in essence, in certain limited circumstances you can pay the same rate of VAT for zero carbon solar panels as you do for burning coal – big whoop. Otherwise you’ll pay 20 per cent – four times as much.
Zero4Zero is the perfect antidote to this stifling bureaucratic “death by 1,000 rules”.
Sign our petition here: express.co.uk/greenpetition
Master builder Alex Hunt has good reason to curse the scrapping of the Green Homes Grant.
The partner at Bright Green Homes in Brighton got accreditation just weeks before the scheme was axed.
He said: “The scrapping of the Green Homes Grant scheme is incredibly frustrating.
“We invested significant time and money in meeting the Government-mandated standards, only for the incentives to be withdrawn at the eleventh hour with very little warning.
“Decisions on building work don’t happen overnight. Businesses need consistency to thrive.
“If we’re serious about reducing carbon emissions from our homes, which the Government says it is, they must bring forward a long-term scheme to replace the Green Homes Grant mess as soon as possible.”
Top tips for ensuring energy efficient houses
AN environmental group has produced guidance for new and existing homes to help them combat global warming, writes Steph Spyro.
The Climate Change Committee said current houses can be adapted, while new builds need to meet higher standards.
Existing homes can be made more efficient by insulating lofts and walls, double or triple glazing and low-carbon heating. New properties can have sustainable timber frames, a high level of airtightness and avoid the gas grid.
This will trap air, meaning less of it is able to escape, keeping heating bills low.
Experts also suggest installing low-energy lighting, hot water tank insulation, low-flow shower heads and draught-proofing to improve home energy and water efficiency. The CCC, an independent advisory body, said: “Decarbonising and adapting the UK’s housing stock is critical for meeting legally binding emissions targets by 2050 and preparing for the impacts of climate change.
“The UK Government, householders and developers need to implement policies and measures now that ensure new and existing homes are fit for the future.”
Push to stop global warming by using Earth’s natural heat
MORE than two million homes could be heated by power from deep below the Earth’s surface, say experts.
Geothermal heat is natural and renewable and could help fight climate change.
The report by engineers ARUP and The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) said with official help it could create up to 35,000 jobs at 360 suitable sites by 2050.
Experts also claimed that the energy could “supply all of the UK’s needs for at least 100 years”.
The heat of the Earth increases at about 87F per mile of depth, with deep geothermal energy coming from more than 1,600ft below the surface.
The report, backed by businesses, academics and green groups, said that within four years there could be 12 projects, with 1,300 jobs and more than £100million of investment mainly in the North, Midlands and South-west.
It said Britain could catch up with the likes of Germany and France.
In Iceland, the power heats 87 per cent of buildings and gives a quarter of electricity.
It would help fight climate change because it is a non-carbon source of heat.
The report was released as the Government finalises its Heat and Buildings Strategy.
Professor Iain Stewart, of Unesco and Plymouth University, said: “Exploiting the natural heat from deep beneath our feet seems to me to be a no-brainer.
“It’s clean, green and renewable and can really support the push to reach the UK’s net-zero climate targets.”
REA boss Dr Nina Skorupska said: “Deep geothermal has the potential to become a world-leading industry here in the UK, provide a stable transition away from oil and gas, and help meet net-zero ambitions by decarbonising heat.
“It would also create thousands of new jobs and generate tens of millions of pounds in new investment.”
Tory MP for Crewe and Nantwich Kieran Mullan is urging Boris Johnson to back the geothermal report.
He said: “We have the chance here to turbocharge investment, often in places in the North like Crewe.”
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