Homeowners in England are going to have access to vouchers of up to £5,000 to help with the cost of energy-saving home improvements, with many low-income households receiving up to £10,000.
In his summer statement on Wednesday 8th July 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is expected to outline a £2bn grant scheme intended to help with home improvements like upgrading insulation and installing double glazing.
The grant scheme will be part of a £3bn strategy to cut emissions and, according to the Treasury, could support more than 100,000 jobs.
How would the grant scheme work?
While the scheme has not been confirmed in detail yet, it is expected that the government will pay for at least two-thirds of the cost of energy-saving home improvements. The scheme would launch in September involving online applications which would recommend energy efficiency measures.
There would also be a list of approved local suppliers who will be able to accept the government vouchers as payment. When the supplier has provided a quote and the work has been approved, the Green Homes Grant voucher would be issued.
Most vouchers would have a value of up to £5,000 which would mean most homeowners would only need to pay for a third of the total cost of energy-saving home improvements. Some of the poorest households could get vouchers for up to £10,000 meaning that they are unlikely to need to contribute anything to the cost of home improvements.
The £2bn fund will be spent in one financial year and around half of it will go to the poorest households.
How would better insulation and/or double glazing help homeowners?
Improved insulation and/or double glazing can significantly reduce the amount of heat lost from a property to the outside air, which in turn reduces heating bills as boilers will not need to be used as much. The Treasury has stated that improved insulation could help some save as much as £600 a year in heating bills, and that the total £3bn investment plan will reduce energy bills for the UK’s poorest homes by £200 a year (on average).
How will these grants help the UK?
The UK has a target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. These grants are part of a £3bn ‘green investment’ which is being announced in the summer statement alongside other efforts intended to rebuild the UK economy after the COVID19 pandemic. The fund will also be used to improve insulation in public buildings and retrofitting low-carbon heating systems in social housing.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the plan is intended to create thousands of new jobs and, in Mr Sunak’s words, to “kick-start our economy”, creating work for existing skilled workers. The UK’s housing stock needs to undergo a major overhaul to enable us to meet zero carbon emissions in the next 30 years, but without placing extra financial pressure on homeowners.
Improving insulation in our homes and public buildings will reduce carbon emissions, reduce heating costs for homeowners and create work for tradespeople.
Mr Sunak has said: “As Britain recovers from the outbreak, it’s vital we do everything in our power to support and protect livelihoods across the nation.”
There are some questions about how the scheme will be ready to be implemented from September, how to prevent builders from profiteering, as well as concerns about the lack of support for people living in rented homes.