A green homes scheme offering landlords grants of up to £5,000 to boost energy efficiency buy to let homes has been scrapped.
The Green Homes Grant was launched in a frenzy of publicity in September but has collapsed a year early due to excessive red-tape, a lack of installers and little interest from homeowners.
Ministers have tried to put a brave face on the failure by repackaging the grant by setting aside £300 million for upgrades to social housing and the lowest paid householders.
To date, 39,000 vouchers have been issued under the scheme from 96,000 applications.
The government will pull the plug on applications from landlords at 5pm on March 31.
Applications already in the pipeline will be honoured in full.
- 1 Funding shrinks by more than £1 billion
- 2 Flagship climate change policy
- 3 Problems with builders and bookings
- 4 Green Homes Grant Scheme FAQ
Funding shrinks by more than £1 billion
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Upgrading the country’s homes with energy efficiency measures means we can cut emissions and save people money on their energy bills.
“The funding boost will mean even more households across England are able to access these vital grants through their local authority.
“This latest announcement takes our total energy efficiency spending to over £1.3 billion in the next financial year, giving installers the certainty they need to plan ahead, create new jobs and train the next generation of builders, plumbers and tradespeople.”
Although the funding figures quote big numbers, the total available has shrunk from the £2.5 billion announced by the Chancellor and the £1.3 billion earmarked for green improvements only involves £300 million of new money.
The big change is around 20 million private homes are now mainly eliminated from the program in favour of local authority schemes.
Flagship climate change policy
The Green Homes Grant was the flagship policy of a program aimed at decarbonising 30 million properties across the country to meet commitments to climate change by 2050.
The scheme had promised landlords in England cash towards the retrofit loft and wall insulation, heat pumps, draught proofing and other energy saving measures for tenants.
Providing one of these improvements was carried out, landlords could claim more money to replace single glazing, fit energy-efficient doors and heating controls.
The maximum Green Homes Grant was £5,000 for each property in a landlord’s portfolio.
One of the problems was DIY installations were not allowed.
Problems with builders and bookings
Instead, the work had to be carried out by a registered installers, with the hope of creating up to 100,000 jobs. But builders were not attracted to join the scheme and claimed they laid off workers because promised contracts did not materialise, according to a report from a group of MPs sitting on the Environmental Audit select committee in Westminster.
As a result, homeowners commissioning work could not find an installer.
Homeowners also complained of difficulties in booking work and of conflicting advice offered by the US company that won the contract to manage the service.
The committee reckoned the government target of upgrading 600,000 homes under the scheme would take more than a decade as the vouchers are processed at the rate of just 156 a day.
Green campaigners bemoan axing the Green Home Grant as a serious blow to the government’s green stimulus program and an embarrassing move as London plans to host an important United Nations climate change conference later in the year.
E3G campaigns director Ed Matthew said: “The demise of the green homes grant is an embarrassment before the COP26 conference and a disaster in terms of the UK getting on track to net zero carbon emissions.
“Emissions from buildings and transport have flatlined over the last decade. If we don’t have programmes to tackle this, we have no hope of meeting the net zero target.”
Green Homes Grant Scheme FAQ
The government has axed the Green Homes Grant for landlords but it’s possible to make a last minute application if you’re quick.
Here’s what you need to know and how to apply.
How many landlords picked up a Green Homes Grant?
Statistics released by the government do not differentiate between landlords and other homeowners, so it’s difficult to know how many received grant cash.
The stats say out of 96,000 applications, so far 39,000 vouchers worth £300 million have been issued.
But the Guardian newspaper suggests 123,000 applications were in the pipeline at the end of February, with 28,000 vouchers issued against the installation of 5,800 energy-efficiency measures.
What could landlords claim under the scheme?
Green Home Grants for landlords offered to fund two-thirds of the cost of energy efficiency improvements up to a maximum grant of £5,000 against works costing £7,500.
What improvements are covered by the grant?
To claim a The Green Homes Grant landlords must carry out at least one of these improvements:
- Fit solid wall, under-floor, cavity wall or roof insulation
- Add air source or ground source heat pumps
- Install solar thermal equipment, like photo-voltaic roof panels
Then extra improvements could be funded, like:
- Fitting single glazing with double, triple or secondary glazing,
- Installing energy efficient doors
- Upgrading hot water tank thermostats and heating controls
When do applications for grants close?
The scheme closes at 5pm on March 31, 2021, for landlords and other homeowners.