Following a review, the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme launched last year will close to new applications on 31 March at 5pm. Applications made before the end of March deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued may be extended upon request.
The Green Homes Grant (GHG) reached just 10% of the 600,000 homes the chancellor promised would be improved.
The scheme will be stopped and the cash allocated to a separate insulation fund run by councils.
The £300m previously allocated for the GHG will now go into a programme administered by local authorities, targeted at lower income households.
Some 19 million homes in the UK need to be insulated or the emissions from gas boilers will wreck the UK’s chances of achieving its climate change targets.
But the GHG scheme, which launched in September in a bid to tackle that, has struggled from the start.
The government said many households were reluctant to apply for the grants – up to £10,000 – because they feared catching Covid from contractors coming into their homes.
However, in some parts of the country installers were actually overwhelmed with demand, and families could not even get firms to answer the phone.
Then checks on the way the money was spent were so stringent that some installers went out of business because payments were so badly delayed.
And despite the checks, some builders appear to have hugely overcharged for their work. One joiner told me he had witnessed an installer carry out work worth £3,000 at most, then deliver an invoice for £5,000.
It seems clear there is frustration in Whitehall at the American consultants brought in to manage the scheme for able-to-pay families.
The parallel insulation scheme administered by local authorities is running much more smoothly but ministers still need to create a new programme to nudge able-to-pay home owners into improving their insulation for the UK to hit its climate change targets.
There is no sign yet what that new programme might look like, or when it might happen.
A government source pointed out that the Conservatives promised in their manifesto to spend £9bn on insulation – and insisted that this cash would definitely be made available.
Campaigners, industry figures, and MPs said the current scheme was botched and called for the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to create an insulation programme stretching for decades, so that installers and suppliers have the chance to build up stocks and expertise.
Previously many firms have been driven out of the sector following stop-start government funding.
On announcing the move, Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng chose to focus on the transfer of cash to the local authority fund, rather than the scrapping of the GHG.
He said: “Upgrading the country’s homes with energy efficiency measures means we can cut emissions and save people money on their energy bills.
“Today’s funding boost will mean even more households across England are able to access these vital grants through their local authority.
“This latest announcement takes our total energy efficiency spending to over £1.3bn in the next financial year, giving installers the certainty they need to plan ahead, create new jobs and train the next generation of builders, plumbers and tradespeople.”
Article from BBC News; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-56552484