Following a review, the flagship voucher scheme launched last year closed to new applications on 31 March at 5 pm. The £1.5 billion programme which offered households grants of up to £5,000 or 10,000 to insert insulation or low carbon heating to ‘build back greener’ from the current pandemic has been scrapped six months after its launch. This leaves the UK without a plan for tackling one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and it comes as a serious blow as preparations are underway for hosting Cop26 this November.
The government revealed that applications made before the end of March deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued may be extended upon request. 96,000 applications had been made through the Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme but only 39,000 vouchers have been issued. They also said that an extra £300m would be directed towards helping people on low-incomes gain access to energy efficiency improvements, through local authorities.
The government on Saturday said the scheme was only ever intended to be a short-term stimulus. However, Ed Matthew campaigns director at the E3G thinktank, said that was part of the problem.
“There has been a stop-start approach [to home energy efficiency] which has stopped businesses investing in skills, and has failed to give households confidence. They [the government] must pick themselves up and create a new green programme that works, and has long-term funding in place from the beginning. It is surely not beyond the capability of this government to give money away at a time of economic crisis.”
Harriet Lamb, chief executive of climate solutions charity Ashden, said
“the stop-start history of its commitment to providing grants for making homes more energy efficient is undermining confidence within the industry. Companies that have taken on the retrofit challenge are scared of entering the market when the government has pulled the rug out from under their feet too many times. The government has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.”
It is unclear what will replace it, if anything or what the government will put into practice in its place.