The government’s handling of the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme has been slammed by spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO).

In a report published today, it says the scheme was delivered to an over-ambitious timetable and was not executed to an acceptable standard, significantly limiting its impact on job creation and carbon reduction.

Both landlords and home-owners were able to access the scheme, which offered vouchers of up to £5,000 that could be then spent with approved tradespeople and builders to upgrade their homes via energy efficient improvements.

It was a key plank of the government’s dual policies of achieve Net Zero for England and Wales by 2030, and stimulating the economy during the darkest days of the Covid pandemic.

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The NAO says the scheme, which opened to applications in September last year but closed at the end of March, did not meet many of its aims.

It cites government figures revealing that it created 5,600 jobs against an expected 82,500 and that only £319 million of its £1.5 billion budget was spent, of which £50.5 million was spent on administration.

As LandlordZONE reported in December, many property owners and installers had a poor experience using the scheme.

This included delays issuing vouchers to landlords and paying installers, ‘causing frustration’, and that the manual application process was complicated and time-consuming.

The NAO says its teething and ongoing problems were down to the short timescale HM Treasury gave the department of business to design and launch the scheme, and that the views of approved installers were only sought after the scheme was launched, particularly on the cost and process of installer accreditation.

The watchdog also says too much focus was put on more technical green improvements to properties which required an army of specialists to be trained, rather than simpler upgrades such as windows, doors and insulation.

“The initial plan for a two-year scheme would have allowed more time for jobs to be created, but this was rejected by HM Treasury,” the NAO says.

The Department should engage properly with the supplier market for future decarbonisation schemes and base its planning on a realistic assessment of how long it will take the market to mobilise.”

Rushed

gareth davies nao

NAO chief Gareth Davies (pictured) says: “The aim to achieve immediate economic stimulus through the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme meant that it was rushed.

“As a result, its benefits for carbon reduction were significantly reduced and ultimately, it did not create the number of jobs government had hoped for.”

Timothy Douglas, Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Manager at trade organisation Propertymark, says: “The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme was the first we have seen after years of no funding and it’s extremely disappointing that the Scheme was poorly executed.

“Financial support for the sector is fundamental if energy efficiency targets are to be achieved and the National Audit Offices’ recent report examining the UK Government’s Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme has reiterated our concerns with the schemes implementation.

“The time frame for its application was unrealistic and therefore failed to provide landlords and homeowners with enough incentives and access to sustained funding.”

Read the NAO’s summary of its report.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I tried to access the scheme and applied before the deadline getting the forms in March 21, however it took to long for the administration to deal with my application and when they did they seemed to look at it page by page and then ask for information that this prolonged the application to the extent I was at the end of August when speaking to the contractor that they said they could not meet them November installation deadline due to capacity. It left me no time to find another contractor. If the administration had looked at the whole application and listed all of the information they wanted, then may have resolved the issues before running out of time. It felt that they did not want you to succeed in the application getting through. Shame as it would have helped improved the property for the tenants and energy costs.

  2. I also obtained vouchers, for EWI for Victorian properties that will struggle to meet the new EPC C grade. The sudden introduction of the end date meant my contractor could not do the work in time so not only was our time surveyor and form filling for 4 properties completely wasted, there are now 4 houses in the PRS (all with long term tenants) that will have to be sold in EPC C comes in as it is simply not worth the £7-£10k per property to do the work.

    So….4 properties not upgraded, 4 tenants evicted from their homes and 4 properties no longer available for rent. Well done Boris!

  3. This government is the best option available and is clueless! The Labour Party always bangs on about discrimination and hatred against minority groups, yet it hates landlords and is quite open about it, purely based on blind prejudice, not rational thinking. The Conservative government looks a lot like a Labour government with its populist agenda, and is happy to act prejudicially against landlords’ legal rights (eg by tearing up contracts in favour of tenants during the Covid crisis) in favour of what they think will generate more votes. Everything it does these days seems to be a blunt, badly thought out initiative to win votes, with the detail revealing that it was unworkable in the first place. EPCs are a classic example, as is this failed green initiative, as is the NI rise.

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