Today is an important day for UK fenestration as the Chancellor is set to announce more details about the various schemes being launched to help the UK economy recover and limit the number of jobs lost in the coming months.

Specifically for our sector, we will all be watching for more information on the Green Homes Grant. This is a new scheme which will see homeowner eligible for £5000 in vouchers to go towards paying for energy-efficient home improvement measures, double glazing is included. £10,000 will be available for poorer households.

News of the scheme, which landed yesterday, was welcomed. However, the alarm has been raised at the proposed implementation date of September. As we await more details about the scheme this lunchtime, the home improvement market is going to be eager to know if the Government is listening to their concerns.

Now, not September

In the same way the housing market panicked at the prospect of Autumn implementation of a stamp duty holiday, fearing an immediate freeze of activity, fenestration has that same concern.

The mere news about the impending announcement of the scheme has lead installers to report growing delays and cancellations as homeowners wait to see if they are eligible for the voucher scheme. As the sector has built up a head of steam and brisk business activity, a delay in the implementation of the scheme, resulting in large numbers of delays and cancellations will do severe damage to order books almost instantly. Homeowners will be happy to wait a few months if it means they can save thousands on their new purchases.

Installers, however, and indeed fabricators, will be hit incredibly hard. The scheme in itself looks a good one. Obviously, there is more detail yet to come, so analysis today of the announcement is important. But the scheme has to be implemented now. Its as simple as that. Else risk seeing order books collapse as homeowners shelve plans for later on in the year.

The only other scenario to make this work if the Government is intent on implementing it in September is to allow homeowners to backdate voucher claims. Its what they did with the furlough scheme where they allowed employers to claim back money from dates before the start of the scheme. They could at least allow homeowners to claim the vouchers from contracts dating the 1st July onwards. At least that gives installers a chance at not seeing mass cancellations.

I am told that conversations with individuals from this sector and Government are taking place now and in the next couple of days to iron out the finer details and communicate concerns from the industry to those with power. I hope that the Government listens to the concerns of our industry, in the same way they have listened to the housing market, and ensure that the scheme is implemented quickly, without damaging delays.

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Money for trainees

One other area that will be of interest to our industry is the new traineeship scheme set to be announced. According to reports, the Government is set to pay £1000 per placement to businesses that take on trainees aged 16-24. Not only that, they will fund up to 25 hours worth of work per week. Meaning businesses will only need to pay for 15 hours per week if the trainee works 40 hours.

Our industry is under pressure right now from high demand and a lack of staff. This is an ideal opportunity to seek out new young talent for the future, and get paid for it! Again, more detail is awaited, but on the surface, this seems like a scheme our industry could take advantage of. There are 30,000 places set to be funded, so we would have to move fast to secure those places for our businesses.

Rishi Sunak’s statement is expected after PMQs at around 12:30pm. As soon as more detail is announced I’ll be taking a look at what it means for our sector.

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