Introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in July 2020, the Green Homes Grant scheme was a government initiative designed to encourage homeowners, including owner occupiers and social/private landlords, in England to make energy-saving improvements to their properties.
It was hoped that the £2 billion scheme would help to protect and create jobs amid the economic downturn caused by coronavirus and enable people to improve their homes and save money on future energy bills. The initiative also had the potential to help the UK to meet its target of bringing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
The move represents a shift in government policy to encourage homeowners to use a mixture of measures (including low carbon heating and thermal insulation), to enhance the efficiency performance of their homes. It is predicted that taking advantage of the scheme could help families to save up to around £600 a year on their energy bills.
The Green Homes Grant initiative will provide funding for two-thirds of the cost of eco-friendly property upgrades of over 600,000 homes in England through a voucher scheme.
Tradespeople, such as construction workers and plumbers, will require a government-backed Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and TrustMark accreditation to provide services under the Green Homes Grant. It’s estimated that 100,000 jobs in green construction could be supported by the initiative.
MCS certifies low-carbon products and installations fitted by tradespeople and energy installers used to produce electricity and heat from renewable sources.
MCS is a mark of quality. Membership of MCS demonstrates adherence to these recognised industry standards; highlighting quality, competency and compliance.
Homeowners in England can claim up to two-thirds of the cost of certain energy-saving home improvements, up to a maximum of £5,000. However, the poorest households will be entitled to claim 100 per cent of the cost of improvements, up to a limit of £10,000. To be eligible for the full subsidy, homeowners must be owner occupiers on a low income and receiving income-based or disability benefits.
Vouchers provided under the Green Homes Grant initiative will allow homeowners to install any of the following:
These home improvements are classed as ‘primary measures’. In addition to these property enhancements, homeowners will be able to opt for one or more of the following ‘secondary measures’:
In order to qualify for a grant for secondary measures, homeowners must also install at least one primary measure - and the cost of the secondary measures can’t exceed that of the primary measures.
The scheme is due to open at the end of September 2020, but homeowners can access advice and support on how they can claim the grants from later this month. The government-endorsed Simple Energy Advice service will provide suggestions on suitable home improvements that people may be able to claim funding for. Households will also be provided with a rundown of MCS registered and approved TrustMark tradespeople based in their local areas that will be able to carry out the installations.
Once the home improvements have been agreed, vouchers will start to be issued from late September, meaning work can commence from then.
Key information for the Green Homes Grant Scheme
For ease, key new information is summarised below:
COVID-19 guidance for installers working outside has been updated, full details can be read here.
’As well as helping to make your home warmer and cosier in winter, taking advantage of the Green Homes Grant scheme could significantly reduce your heating bills. Exactly how much money you stand to save will depend on a range of factors, including the type of property you live in and the particular home improvements you plan to make.
You could save upto 10% per annum on fuel costs a year* simply by replacing a gas central heating system with a ground source heat pump, while the same household could save over £1,000 by replacing an electric heating system with a ground source heat pump. Replacing gas or electrical heating systems with this renewable technology could also save up to 2,700 kg or 3,600 kg of carbon dioxide a year respectively.
*Based upon a typical modern four bedroom house using 8400 kWh per annum.
The decision to require plumbers, builders and other tradespeople to have an official seal of approval in the form of government-backed TrustMark and MCS accreditation is designed to ensure that consumers can have maximum confidence when signing up to have work done to their homes under the scheme. When it announced this stipulation, the government said it will reassure households that the improvements made to their properties will be of the highest quality.
TrustMark is a quality scheme endorsed by the government that covers work consumers choose to have carried out in or around their properties. When people opt for businesses that are TrustMark registered, they can have confidence that the companies have been rigorously vetted to meet the necessary quality standards, and that they have made a considerable commitment to provide their customers with a good standard of service and technical competence.
The Green Homes Grant scheme is part of a wider green package that has been announced by the government. Other measures included a £1 billion initiative to help make public buildings such as hospitals and schools across the country more energy efficient. This decarbonisation scheme will provide grants to public sector bodies to help fund low carbon and energy efficient heating upgrades.