Graham Wright, chairman of the HPA
The Heat Pump Association (HPA) said the announcements look set to build on promises that the UK was continuing to drive forward efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions in social housing and the public sector. However, the association believes the UK is still at risk of falling short if some crucial details are not clarified.
Among the announcements, a £2 billion Green Homes Grant will be introduced to help homeowners and landlords make their homes more efficient. Vouchers offered will cover at least two-thirds of the cost, up to £5,000 per household. For the worst off, the scheme will cover the full cost of energy efficiency measures up to £10,000 per household.
In addition, the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, a £50 million pilot scheme, is aimed at helping social landlords improve the least energy-efficient social rented properties to help create warmer homes and lower annual energy bills for some of the lowest income households.
Graham Wright, chairman of the HPA, said: “There is a lot of detail to iron out here, however, it appears there is something for landlords, homeowners and those who campaign on behalf of low-income households. Although the amount of money is smaller than that promised for Home Upgrade Grants in the manifesto, it is being brought forwards and should be spent sooner with bigger impact than the sector could have hoped for.”
In addition to the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, a Clean Growth Strategy sets out the government’s ambition to halve greenhouse gas emissions from the public sector by 2032. To help achieve this and support economic recovery, the government will invest £1 billion over the next year in a Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme that will offer grants to public sector bodies, including schools and hospitals, to fund both energy efficiency and low carbon heat upgrades.
Mr Wright said: “The amount of funding here is significant. With Local Authorities and other public bodies engaged in a race to declare a climate emergency in recent years, I would expect strong interest in funding that could be used to achieve these ambitions. It will be interesting to see how this funding could be combined, for example with Renewable Heat Incentive payments or the Heat Networks Investment Project.”
The British Board of Agrément(BBA) chief executive Hardy Giesler said: “We are delighted that the Chancellor has concurred with industry and included this incredibly positive (Green Homes) grant scheme within his economic statement,” said BBA CEO Hardy Giesler.
“The BBA (a construction industry approvals body), along with eight other organisations from the energy-saving sector, wrote to the Chancellor requesting that he release funding for environment-friendly domestic retrofits in order to revive the economy and stimulate green growth post COVID-19.
“We referred to it as a ‘street-by-street energy efficiency revolution’ to support economic recovery and protect the NHS. The Green Homes Grant does just this, as well as creating new jobs, addressing sub-standard housing/fuel poverty and supporting the government’s net zero ambition.
“The move also focuses attention on just how vital innovative construction products and solutions are in improving inefficient buildings and reducing carbon emissions. Green technologies will be the lifeblood of the construction industry moving forward and the BBA is committed to supporting the development and growth of this sector,” Mr Giesler added.
Ian Henderson, the founder and chief executive of Cramlington-headquartered Boiler Plan, welcomed the incentives designed to create further ‘green’ jobs through a £2 billion Green Homes Grant and £1 billion scheme to improve public sector buildings.
He said: “We already work with a number of charities to cut fuel poverty and the combination of a new generation of energy efficient boilers with the adoption of other energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, for homes is to be welcomed.
“It will have the effect of reducing fuel bills, cutting carbon emissions, and improving our housing stock long term – but the government must actively encourage people to take up these grants.”
“The chancellor has also provided much greater confidence moving forward when it comes to unfurloughing staff and creating new jobs as Boiler Plan continues to grow its business over the next 12 months.”