As the government releases details of its £2 billion grant scheme, we gather industry reactions to the announcement.
The hope is that the Green Homes Grant scheme, originally announced by the Chancellor a month ago, will enable improvements to over 600,000 homes, with the government funding up to two-thirds of the cost. This would support over 100,000 construction jobs.
Builders, plumbers, and other tradespeople across England will need a government-backed seal of approval to provide their services as part of the scheme which is going live at the end of September.
The BMF, the Federation of Master Builders, and the Construction Products Association welcomed the scheme when it was first announced back in July. So did Actis, and Grant UK (click on the links to read their comments).
The BMF and TrustMark have announced a collaboration to facilitate accreditation within the supply chain.
Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC)
Stewart Clements, Director, HHIC said: ‘Whilst we welcome the details of Rishi Sunak’s new Green Homes Grant scheme, which could raise the profile of low carbon heating, there is disappointment that more measures are not included.
“HHIC welcomes the release of the scheme details. Industry can now plan and respond accordingly. We think this could be an interesting scheme to raise the profile of low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps and solar.
“However, there is of course disappointment that options for the consumer appear limited. We believe it would have made greater sense to include a wider set of home improvement measures such as new hot water cylinders, heating controls, and radiators.
“Currently, hot water storage offers the only inexpensive practical solution for storing energy and banking it for when it needs to be used. We believe this is a missed opportunity.
“Tradespeople must also register for TrustMark, or the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation to take part in the scheme. Government, of course, have a duty to protect consumers who sign up to the scheme, but we believe that the mechanisms for quality assurance are already in place through Building Regulations. Better policing and adherence to current standards is needed. We hope that this inclusion does not result in higher consumer costs and lower numbers of small businesses benefitting.
“HHIC also notes that funding is due to finish in March 2021, which is a relatively small window, especially in the current climate. We would anticipate future funding will be required to avoid a boom and bust situation.”
Hot Water Association (HWA)
“The decision to exclude hot water cylinders from the Green Homes Grant scheme is baffling’ says Isaac Occhipinti, Head of External Affairs, HWA. ‘Government should be putting long term plans into place to improve our homes. If the UK is to increase its use of low carbon heating technology, then storage of some sort will be necessary, and currently hot water storage is the only practical solution for storing energy and banking it for when it needs to be used.
“It makes absolutely no sense that a hot water cylinder isn’t on the list of approved measures. Why isn’t the Government recognising the importance of hot water storage? The Green Homes Grant scheme appears to be another missed opportunity.”
BEAMA is the UK trade association for manufacturers and providers of energy infrastructure technologies and systems.
The Green Homes Grant Scheme is a welcome boost to manufacturers whose products are included, given the current economic uncertainty. BEAMA hopes that this approach can now be used as a basis for a longer-term housing refurbishment program, using the very welcome investment over the next 12 months as the basis for this major programme. As members of the Green Finance Institute’s Coalition for the Energy Efficiency of Buildings, BEAMA is now working alongside a broad coalition of financial and business experts to develop innovative and scalable financial solutions that enable locally-delivered energy efficiency projects for all.
The inclusion of heat pumps as a primary measure, and heating controls as secondary measure is welcomed. For the former technology this is evidence of the importance of a move towards low-carbon heating, for heating controls further recognition of the vital role of managing heating systems and gaining the benefits of insulation measures. We know that there are additional measures that can improve the energy efficiency of existing homes and make them ready for wider electrification and grid flexibility. We hope that Government will engage with industry at an early stage so that these can be included in future incentive schemes.
We are pleased to see that measures installed under this scheme will be installed by Trustmark registered installers as this is the correct way to take the overall energy efficiency industry forward. It is essential that the householders receiving measures have the best possible experience of the installation, that they have confidence in the work, and receive the full benefit of potential energy and cost savings. As part of this, it is essential that regulations are followed to provide effective ventilation alongside insulation measures. As the Each Homes Counts review concluded, this will avoid the potential risk of householders otherwise ending up with poor indoor air quality and mould growth, with associated health impacts.
Howard Porter, BEAMA CEO, said: “As the former chair of the Implementation Board of Each Home Counts, I welcome today’s announcement as an endorsement of the collaboration between Industry, Government and consumer groups to deliver the quality systems now managed by Trustmark. BEAMA members will continue to provide quality products for UK householders, and we encourage all installers to follow the Trustmark quality standards.”
Commenting on the scheme, Russell Smith, Founder and MD of RetrofitWorks, said: “If the UK’s homes are not retrofitted, we will never reach our climate goals. Retrofit has always been the Cinderella behind the shadow of its New Build shiny sisters, but it has the power to produce a seismic shift in the way we manage housing stock, and if we apply enough energy to unlock its dormant potential, it will be one of the UK’s strongest initiatives to accelerate the move towards Zero Carbon 2050 and also the most effective way to stimulate an economy that is in need of a shove after the Coronavirus.
“That’s why RetrofitWorks welcomes the Green Homes Grant scheme, and especially the detailed announcement this week about the focus on quality and competence by utilising TrustMark, which I believe will play a vital role in making this initiative successful. While some product sectors like Tier 1 of the scheme, e.g. insulation, may currently be happier than others, like glazing, I believe we have a framework now that can work and one that offers builders’ merchants so much opportunity.”
Following details on the Green Home Grant confirming that boilers works will not be included in this scheme, Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Communication and Product Management at Worcester Bosch, commented: “Although we support any scheme that actively tries to improve the efficiency of UK homes, the fact that upgrading boilers is not included in this grant is an oversight. There are still anything up to 6m non-condensing boilers in operation so upgrading to a high efficiency condensing boiler would have made a significant improvement to these homes.
“Another concern is that tradespeople need to be TrustMark or MCS accredited registered companies to undertake the work. The overwhelming majority of heating installation businesses are not members as they are small, one-man operated businesses. Therefore, while we will end up with more efficient properties for homeowners, there will be no great job retention outcome for the businesses that are not able to take advantage of this grant.
“However, it is pleasing to see that if one of the listed primary measures has been installed then a secondary measure would be eligible for “matched “ funding. The secondary measures include smart controls which again will add efficiency savings to the property.”
Mark Kelly, CEO at Eurocell plc, said: “We’ve been pleased to stand alongside other manufacturers and industry bodies to lobby Government for clarity over the past few weeks, in the campaign originally spearheaded by Roy Frost, CEO at GJB Window Systems.
“Although it’s taken longer than we’d hoped, it just shows the power of working together and using multiple voices to effect change. We now have that clarity and can start reinstating confidence to the market and convincing customers who were waiting to see if they could replace existing double with double glazing to start placing orders again.
“The government has put quality assurance at the heart of the scheme, stating that tradespeople must register for TrustMark or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation to take part. Whilst we 100% support prioritising quality assurance and jobs being undertaken to the highest standard, we hope that any additional bureaucracy doesn’t lead to less work for smaller companies and installers.
“The weeks since the announcement was made have been a real set back to the industry, but we’re resilient and can come back stronger. Now we have the clarity and know exactly where we’re at, Eurocell and our branch network, plus fabricators and installers alike, can return quickly to servicing the needs of our customers and building the sector back up.”