1 April 2021

Chancellor must honour Green Homes Grant applications

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) has already expressed its frustrations about the closure of the Green Homes Grant (GHG) and after months of unheeded recommendations, we are acutely aware as to why the chancellor, Rishi Sunak pulled the scheme.

NFB has already made recommendations on what should come next and how to support a future National Retrofit Strategy (NRS) but in the short term, the Government must ensure any GHG applications are completed, rather than closed to save cash.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “To build back trust with industry and reaffirm Britain’s climate target ambitions, the Government must ensure that businesses who invested their own money to deliver the scheme, will be able to complete the works they quoted for before the fund closed.

As well as speeding up all installer late payments, every legitimate application must be honoured, with grant advisors going above and beyond to ensure that the 60,000 plus homes due for retrofitting, can still help Britain’s meet its climate targets.”

The Green Homes Grant (GHG) will leave a sour taste in the mouth of many but there are positives. PAS2035 and Retrofit Coordinator roles are now better known qualifications, which industry knows are a pathway to retrofitting works. Training schemes for those works have also been set up.

Government has a better understanding of who can more easily do retrofitting works, eg: solar thermal installers and who needs greater support to get qualified, eg: insulators.

And most importantly, the GHG has highlighted how vital it is to understand a whole house approach, do more to insulate homes and make them more air-tight, before installing more expensive to run electric heating solutions.

Other solutions missing from the grant have also been identified, such as the benefits of Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems, which in an air-tight home can provide excellent heating and cooling solutions as well as the freshest air.

Many will not like to hear this but the chancellor may have made the correct choice in ending a stuttering scheme. However, unless he, the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng and the housing minister, Robert Jenrick now prioritise deliverable solutions and processes, they will fail small business, the climate agenda and industry efforts to deliver the Government levelling up agenda.

Richard Beresford, who has encouraged the NFB to take a solution-based approach to helping construction meet its climate targets, continued: “Over the past five years, NFB policy has made numerous progressive climate focused recommendations to the treasury and MHCLG. This last year, our Major Contractors Group (MCG) has released two carbon reports. And we are a signatory to the National Retrofit Strategy (NRS).

We stand by the Government to shape something deliverable and effective, but it needs to come to us and industry, to understand what installers can and can’t do. One schemes failure does not mean the Government has failed. It highlights how complex the solutions are.”