The industry has broadly welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement to boost the “green economy” which includes a Green Homes Grant Scheme and an investment in the energy efficiency of public buildings.
The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) described a £3bn fund for low carbon projects as a “welcome shot in the arm for the built environment”.
It said the Green Homes Grant would help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their homes through measures like better insulation, boiler upgrades and the deployment of heat pumps through grants of up to £5,000 per household.
BESA’s director of legal and commercial Debbie Petford said this and the £1bn to be invested in making public buildings such as schools and hospitals more energy efficient was “very welcome spending that will help to generate a pipeline of work for SMEs in our sector”.
“It is a bold plan that will address the twin challenges of cutting carbon and creating meaningful employment.”
The Construction Products Association’s economics director, Professor Noble Francis, said: “The £2 billion funding towards energy-efficient retrofit of the existing housing stock is potentially very promising; but the devil is in the detail, as government has previously demonstrated on energy-efficient retrofit programmes, in particular given the very poor experience of the Green Deal policy.
“In addition, £1 billion for insulating public buildings sounds very good but given this is only for one year, it raises the key question of whether government departments and local authorities have the time or resource to spend this effectively. The main risks are that the majority of this money ends up not getting used or that it gets wasted in a rush to spend it.”
Kevin Wellman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said: “The Chancellor’s summer statement offers a much-needed boost to the plumbing and heating industry. The Green Home Grant in particular will help increase demand, providing much needed work opportunities for businesses and moving the net-zero agenda forwards.”
Darren McMahon, Viessmann marketing director said: “We know the Government wants UK homeowners to switch from fossil-fuelled boilers to renewable technologies such as heat pumps, to achieve carbon reduction targets. Yet many properties require significant investment in home improvements, such as insulation, before low temperature heating systems can provide expected levels of comfort while running in an energy-efficient way.
“The Green Homes Grant addresses both challenges and caters for all types of property. It promotes a ‘fabric first’ approach, acknowledging that the best way to save energy in the home is to reduce heat loss, and it also contributes to, or covers, the cost of the heat pump to ensure overall heating system efficiency. We believe that vouchers of up to £5,000 per household will positively impact consumer behaviour and stimulate heat pump sales that have not been forthcoming for financial reasons.
“We also welcome the initiatives designed to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings and the decarbonisation of social housing.”
Max Halliwell, communication manager for residential heating at Mitsubishi Electric said: “The announcement from the Chancellor signals that the government has heard and understands the role that renewable heating, power and green measures will have in helping build Britain back up post the COVID-19 crisis.
“The measures outlined by the Chancellor go some way to addressing this. In addition to these measures, the installation of renewable heating technologies, such as heat pumps, up and down the country will not only help homeowners reduce their own carbon emissions from home heating, but provide valuable jobs creation as plumbers, installers, manufacturers and apprentices upskill and reskill in a technology that is going to be vital for future homes.
“Considering the aspirational targets that have been discussed by the Committee for Climate Change to have a million heat pumps installed by 2030, the UK heat pump market could play a considerable part in the country’s economic recovery.”
Angela McGinlay, managing director, Daikin UK, said:“It’s good to see homes at the heart of this new eco-package. New incentives will lead more UK homeowners to explore renewable, green alternatives to fossil fuel heating and ensure technologies such as heat pumps are rightly recognised as part of the mainstream solution to decarbonising our built environment.
“With the planned phase out of fossil fuel boilers from new homes after 2025, this package was needed to provide a boost to the much-needed reduction of carbon emissions from the UK’s existing housing stock.”
The UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) also welcomed the announcement but with a word of caution.
Guy Pulham chief executive of UKIFDA said: “We are pleased that homeowners will receive help through the Green Homes Grant Scheme. We lobbied government to incentivise all homeowners (irrelevant of type of heating system) to make energy efficiency improvements in their own homes.
“We suggested improvements such as fitting smart meters to tanks, installing smart temperature controls across homes and installing better insulation. All of these improvements would increase energy efficiency, create carbon efficiency and reduce bills so welcome the announcement that government will be providing assistance to households to make changes to the fabric of their homes including insulation, new double glazing and low energy lighting.”
He stressed however that UKIFDA had been urging the Government and the Committee on Climate Change to support its liquid biofuels strategy cautioning that “heat pumps are not a one size fits all solution”.
Chief executive of The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) John Newcomb said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s proposal which will provide the confidence, incentive and support to homeowners to undertake the necessary upgrades.
“It is also extremely good news for the building materials supply industry. It is likely to bring new contractors into the market who will require just in time site deliveries.
Commenting on the scheme, OFTEC chief executive Paul Rose said: “It will be impossible for the UK to reach its climate targets without a major programme to upgrade housing stock, so the Green Homes Grant scheme is a welcome move towards this.
“With rural homes amongst the most poorly insulated in Europe, we would however like to have seen the supported targeted at off gas grid households as well as families on the lowest incomes. Rural homes can often be some of the hardest to treat so it would have been good to see this recognised.
“But this is a positive step in the right direction to cut fuel bills, create green jobs and crucially, move to a net zero future.”
Simon Ayers, chief executive of TrustMark, the government endorsed quality scheme, said:“We welcome the Chancellor’s support for homeowners to carry out insulation and other retrofit measures around their homes.
“The only way to have a realistic chance of meeting the Government’s carbon neutral 2050 deadline is to improve the energy efficiency of the homes we already have, so this investment from the government is an important step in achieving that goal and starting the development of a long-term plan to retrofit a high percentage of the UK’s homes.”
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB)said: “Grant-funded vouchers are a step in the right direction to launching the retrofit market and supporting consumers to build with confidence after the pandemic. We hope at the Autumn Budget the Chancellor will bring forward the rest of the £9.2bn manifesto commitment and support the development of private finance initiatives that will ensure the market grows in a sustainable way.”
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