With just four days notice, the Government has announced that the wildly hyped but badly executed Green Homes Grant is to be axed. There have been weeks of rumour and speculation that the scheme might well be shut down early amidst a myriad of complications and low take-up. It has now been confirmed, on a weekend, wrapped up in another announcement, that the “landmark” scheme is to end early.

Green Homes Grant: Cancelled

In a press release published on Saturday, titled “Government boosts energy efficiency spending to £1.3 billion with extra funding for green homes”, the Government confirmed that the Green Homes Grant would end on March 31st. For weeks there has been speculation that the scheme might be scrapped after low take-up from both the public and from industry. But nothing was said in the budget and there was no significant news in the weeks that followed, so you would have been forgiven for thinking that perhaps it might have been left to bob along until the March 2022 deadline, which was when the scheme was meant to have closed.

As it is, the scheme, a second attempt at the Green Deal, is to close in four days with very little notice for the public to send in their applications. Here is the first segment of the press release from the Government which explains the measures being taken:

£300 million of extra funding is to be invested to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s homes through energy efficiency and low carbon heating schemes.

The funding will focus on delivering energy saving upgrades and low carbon heating to homes through local authorities in England, meaning tens of thousands more low-income households will be able to be upgraded.

Following a review, the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme launched last year will close to new applications on 31 March at 5pm. The scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic boost while tackling our contribution to climate change. Applications made before the end of March deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued may be extended upon request.

Today’s announcement takes the total government funding for energy efficiency and low carbon heating in 2021/22 to over £1.3 billion, with the remainder of the funding having been pledged through the decarbonisation fund. This is up from the £1 billion announced in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and exceeds the Government’s manifesto commitment in these early years of the parliament.

Home upgrades can help households save over £300 a year on their energy bills. This announcement is part of the Government’s manifesto commitment to pledge over £9 billion to increase the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals to work to build back greener, which will support around 58,000 jobs.

In classic Government style, this is bad news wrapped up in something vaguely positive, dropping it on a weekend. The “new” money aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of homes is being taken from the budget allocated to the Green Homes Grant. If you want to read the full release, click here, but the entire piece is a heavily spun admission of failure.

For months there has been vocal criticism of the scheme from industry, not just ours, about how it is run, the implementation of it, the communication of it and more. Nothing has changed. As a result, there was incredibly low take-up from businesses to actually carry out the work, which meant a paltry number of homeowners have been able to access the scheme. Businesses have also reported delays of up to three months in getting paid for work that has taken place.

Ignore the spin around the article and the news that the Government would rather push, the main point here is that a flagship scheme, part of the Government’s ten-point plan to massively change the economy to reduce carbon emissions has failed. Again. This is simply Green Deal 2.0. Except that it lasted even less time than the first one. The Government will tell you that this was only meant to be a short term measure. But only a few months ago they did extend the timeline of the scheme to March 2022 and there was always an argument that if it was successful then it could have been a framework to build from.

This is going to do serious harm to the credibility of the efforts of Government and their commitment to climate change. This is a failure. There is now going to be a huge amount of work to do to repair the reputational damage this is going to cause. There will be more analysis of this on DGB in the coming week.

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