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50% of boiler scrappage vouchers unclaimed by public

Despite 400,000 enquiries from the public about the boiler scrappage scheme, more than 50% of the government's 125,000 vouchers are yet to be claimed by householders in England.
50% of boiler scrappage vouchers unclaimed by public
The Energy Saving Trust (EST), the adminstrator of the scheme, is receiving on average 5,000 enquiries every day, but the government still has around 70,000 boiler scrappage vouchers (worth £28m) yet to be claimed by householders. Some 54,758 boiler scrappage vouchers have so far been allocated to householders.

Since January 17, 125,000 households in England with working 'G-rated' boilers could apply to EST for a voucher giving them £400 off the price of an 'A-rated' boiler or a renewable heating system. The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) says there are 4.5 million SEDBUK Band G rated boilers in use in the UK, each working at less than 70% efficiency.

The Energy Savings Trust told heatingandventilating.net: 'There are two main reasons why people have opted not to go for the scheme. Overall the EST has found four key reasons to explain why some householders have not applied for vouchers'.

These are:

1)During their initial enquiry, the householder discovered their boiler was not G-rated and therefore not eligible for the scheme.

2)They had already got the boiler replacement work done before they applied for a voucher and were therefore not eligible.

3)A £400 discount (even when matched by energy giants) was not a big enough discount to encourage the householder to replace their boiler. Those on low incomes are better off applying for the Warm Front scheme, because individuals cannot apply for both schemes.

4) Householders under 60 are enquiring about replacing broken boilers and are not eligible because the scheme only allows those aged over 60 to apply for vouchers for broken boilers.

'Since the scrappage offer was launched the phones have been ringing off the hook and our call centres have been working hard to process the applications - we've had nearly 400,000 calls nationally - an average of 5,000 a day at each of our regional advice centres' said Fraser Winterbottom from Energy Saving Trust.

He added:'There are still thousands more vouchers to be claimed.'

The major energy companies which sell and install boilers (British Gas, E.On, npower and Scottish & Southern) matched the government's offer, giving householders up to £800 off the cost of a new boiler. However, one customer found the cost of a new A-rated boiler including installation by British Gas was in the region of £2,600, which after the £800 discount, left the householder paying £1,800 himself. For some householders the prospect of claiming a £400 voucher but having to find even £1,000 themselves during tough economic times, may be a step too far.

The government estimates a household's energy bill could be cut by up to £235 a year. Householders facing more than a five year wait for a payback, may decide after their initial enquiry to the EST, not to apply for a scrappage voucher.

Once eligibility is confirmed, the EST issues a voucher which is valid for 12 weeks. When work is completed and paid for by the householder, they must send the installer's invoice and the voucher to the EST, who will reimburse £400 to the householder.

The latest figures show a total of 54,758 vouchers have been issued so far in England. A regional breakdown of the current statistics show:

Region No. of vouchers issued

East Midlands 5,498

East of England 5,357

London 4,729

North East 3,412

North West 8,186

South East 9,387

South West 6,551

West Midlands 5,536

Yorkshire and The Humber 6,102

Total issued = 54,758

Vouchers can be redeemed against a boiler from manufacturer which is for A-rated or equivalent gas, oil or LPG boilers, boilers with a Passive Flue Heat Recovery Device, Micro CHP units or Microgeneration Certification Scheme-registered biomass boilers and heat pumps. Solar thermal is also eligible if combined with an eligible boiler replacement.

Installation of a gas or oil boiler must be carried out by an installer registered with a competent person's scheme (such as GasSafe or OFTEC). Installation of a microgeneration technology must be carried out by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme qualified person.

The Scottish government and the Welsh Assembly have followed England's lead, with the announcement of new boiler scrappage schemes. The Welsh assembly's scrappage scheme, aimed at the over 60s, will launch on April 1 and will provide £2.5m to help 5,000 Welsh households replace inefficient boilers. The scheme will provide vouchers worth £500 to put towards the cost of a new boiler. The Scottish government has allocated £2m for its boiler scrappage scheme.

For details about England's scrappage scheme visit the Energy Saving Trust website www.energysavingtrust.org.uk or call the advice line on 0800 512 012
15 February 2010

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