Long-term retrofit strategy is needed to combat failing Green Homes Grant scheme

The poor take up of the government’s Green Homes Grant scheme demonstrates the need for a longer-term strategy to upgrade existing homes to make them greener and more energy efficient, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to disappointing statistics.

Figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy show that from its introduction to the end of January 2021, the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme has received nearly 69,200 applications. Of the applications, currently 38% were approved, with 3% being withdrawn or rejected.

Of the 100,200 live voucher applications at the end of January, just over 21,000 had a voucher issued, with 2,777 measures installed.

From the 66,900 live household applications, there were nearly 100,200 live voucher applications (each measure included on a household application requires a separate voucher). On average, there were 1.50 measures per household application.

As part of the scheme, installers that wish to carry out work funded through voucher scheme need to be Trustmark registered and have registered with the scheme delivery partner. Considering this, to the end of January 2021, 1,669 companies had applied for scheme registration. Of these companies, 929 installers (56% of registrations) were categorised as ‘active’, with a further 23% having applications ‘in progress’.

Commenting on the statistics, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The government will not succeed in achieving its Green Industrial Revolution with a short-term plan like the Green Homes Grant scheme, which today’s [18 February] figures show is putting off both builders and consumers. The government needs to think bigger and bolder and back a long-term National Retrofit Strategy, that sets out an ambitious delivery plan to cut carbon emissions from all our homes, and the Budget is the perfect opportunity to do so.”

Brian concluded: “The government will clearly be disappointed that a scheme designed to create 100,000 new jobs has fewer than 1,000 building companies on board. A flash in the pan policy doesn’t give small builders the confidence they need to invest in the necessary accreditations and training. That household applications for grants peaked in October is concerning and suggests the negative press around this scheme is taking its toll.”