As part of the UK Government’s £3bn green package to create jobs, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set out details of the £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme for England. The scheme will provide hundreds of thousands of homeowners with up to £5,000 of vouchers (and up to £10,000 for the poorest households) to make energy-saving improvements to their homes.
The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers. Once one of these suppliers has provided a quote and the work is approved, the voucher of up to £5,000 will be issued to cover at least two thirds of the cost of the work. Up to £10,000 could be provided to the poorest households.
Commenting on the Green Homes Grant Scheme, Andy Sutton cofounder of green energy service provider and zero carbon homebuilder, Sero said:
“Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s pitch to help homeowners with the costs of energy-saving improvements is clearly welcome. But the money is not enough to tackle to scale of the problem we have here in the UK with our existing housing stock, and the way that homeowners are likely to be encouraged to undertake the improvements is going to risk a piecemeal approach to these improvements that don’t offer an optimum outcome or real value for money.
“Hundreds of thousands of UK homes – not just England – need to have energy improvement work to cut emissions. The UK’s building stock is responsible for approximately 30% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. So retrofit is vital and so is the money to pay for it. The Coalition for the Energy Efficiency of Buildings (CEEB), set up by the Government and backed by the Green Finance Institute (GFI) reported that for each type of housing – owner-occupied, private-rented, and social-rented – the main barrier to retrofit is the lack of finance.
“So, whilst it is good on paper that homeowners will receive vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy-saving home improvements, with the poorest getting up to £10,000, it doesn’t go far enough and there is a risk that the retrofit process that follows will not go far enough either. The CEEB report from June stated that to reaching the target of as many homes as possible to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C by 2035 will require energy efficiency upgrades worth up to £65 billion. But money only goes so far. It has to be spent correctly. It has to be optimised. In fact, we need £65billion, not a £2bn grant or a wider £3bn plan to cut emissions, to be spent on an optimised retrofit approach.”
“What does that mean? It means that each home must be an accurately assessed or surveyed to determine what type of energy improvement work is correct to reduce CO2 emissions and help achieve the 2030 economy-wide decarbonisation targets Rishi Sunak is aiming for. We need to ensure an unbiased assessment is made of each home – factoring on a combination of heating, energy storage, smart energy management as well as the fabric of the building – and not simply a focus on a particular product or service. Any spending on energy home improvements must be coordinated to avoid inappropriate or piecemeal recommendations.
“We want to see homeowners being educated about how they live and understand more about the energy their home is using and the emissions it gives off. Ideally this means a professional benchmark of the home’s energy performance. In effect, it means that for a retrofit to be optimised, the process needs to be choreographed carefully.
“Energy improvement of homes is not simply about spending £5k on loft insulation or new windows. It is about checking what a home requires to be as energy efficient as possible and then spending wisely. That is what’s missing from the announcement by Rishi Sunak.”