Not long after the Green Homes Grant has been made, it appears the scheme is already hitting troubled waters as homeowners report difficulties in trying to find approved installers to carry out work under the scheme.
The GHG was botched at launch, with the scheme being announced but with very little information provided after the launch to explain how it would work and how homeowners could take part. Now, as the public are struggling to find installers willing to quote for work under the scheme, and the fenestration industry seemingly uninterested in it, the future already looks dicey for the GHG.
A story online at the Guardian is saying the following:
Large areas of the country appear to have no contractors willing or able to do the work – leading the founder of the Moneysavingexpert website, Martin Lewis, to warn that the scheme risks becoming a “postcode lottery” without immediate government intervention.
Some of the contractors listed on the site report they have been given little or no information on how the £2bn scheme should operate.
The lack of installers, the fact that all work has to be carried out in six months and the complicated way the scheme is structured are leading some applicants to consider giving up.
The window industry has received this scheme with little enthusiasm. Replacement windows are only viable under the scheme so long as the homeowner agrees to home improvement works on a primary list, such as insulation and ground source heat pumps. The reality is that any leftover money is not going to make any tangible difference to the cost of replacing windows. Add to that homes are only eligible for upgrades if they currently have single glazed windows. Double glazing is currently off the table.
As a result, and something which is supported by the story above, it appears that many installers that could sign up to take part in the scheme are not. Indeed, I had a phone call with a homeowner the other day who asked if we were taking part in the GHG. We said no and explained the reasons why to which the homeowner agreed and also said that they had rung around at least half a dozen businesses all who said they weren’t taking part.
The upshot is that if there are not enough companies signed up to make this scheme happen, it will quickly fall by the wayside unless something about the scheme is changed. For example, the requirement to be a TrustMark registered business. Many in our sector are not. And many may decide it’s not worth the time to become registered as they already have enough work and won’t see that use of time productive in the long term. Especially considering the scheme is only meant to last 6 months.
Unless that requirement is dropped, the scheme is allowed to run for longer, and glazing is moved up to the primary list, our industry is simply going to ignore it. As I suspect other sectors not on the primary list might as well. I think this scheme might come to a quiet, anti-climactic end in March and we’ll wave it goodbye.
All that being said, there are sectors that will benefit from this, namely those that produce and install insulation, create the ground source heat pumps, and another sector involved with the production and installation of any of the items that are on the primary measures list. Double glazing is on the secondary list and this is the perspective from which I am looking at this.
Boost existing buying methods
For me, I don’t think we needed another scheme like this. We know from the Green Deal that these schemes are often complicated, poorly communicated to the public and industries they involved and therefore fade away quickly after launch. The fenestration industry is creaking under intense demand already. Many of us will be wondering how much extra business do we actually want right now.
If the Government were to do anything for this industry, I would circle back to the point I, and many others continue to make, and that is to reduce VAT to 5% of energy efficient windows and doors. That would bring it in to line with other energy saving measures and would be a far easier measure to communicate to the general public. Everyone is aware of VAT, so a reduction on one of the most expensive home improvement measures you can do will certainly hit people’s radars in a big way.
It would be easier to manage from a business point of view. The only thing I would be worried about is the potential for homeowners to pause buying if they thought VAT was going to be reduced. So, if this was ever to be introduced, it would need to be done so almost immediately. And to prevent a swathe of orders being cancelled and then re-signed up, there should be a retroactive date applied to purchases that spans a full calendar month. Hopefully that would prevent any major cancelling of orders.
The existing buying methods for window and door products work well as they already do. I suspect the same can be said for other sectors as well. The VAT measure for windows and doors is perhaps the only tweak I would make to the industry. I don’t think we need more schemes and plans, just a more level playing field with other energy saving industries.
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