The Green Homes Grant: what installers need to know

It has been just over three months since the government’s Green Homes Grant was rolled out for consumers and installers alike, yet the scheme has already been beset by teething problems. The most pressing issue is that of installer uptake and availability. Under its terms, installers must be Trustmark, PAS or MCS certified to carry out the eligible home improvements; however, consumer demand for the scheme has seemingly outstripped supply.

Certified installers have simply not had the capacity to bring on new work, while completing jobs that were postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, the government recently amended the installer terms and conditions of the Green Homes Grant to enable work to be passed to subcontractors, freeing up more installers to complete work under the scheme.

As expected, this raised concerns within the industry, particularly that subcontractors may not be held to the same exacting standards as certified companies.

MCS has liaised closely with The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to clarify this position. As such, we can confirm that the recent changes to the terms and conditions now match the subcontracting rules under MCS.

These state that the lead contractor must be MCS certified, hold the contract with the customer and take full responsibility for any installation work that they choose to offer out to a subcontractor.

MCS certification remains a core requirement for contractors using the Green Homes Grant who wish to deliver the ‘low carbon heat’ measures specified. Any subcontractors they employ are subject to the rigorous quality marks we instil among all our members.

Ultimately, this is to protect industry integrity and trust, while ensuring consumer confidence in home-grown, renewable energy remains high.

There are of course other ongoing issues which are impacting the Green Homes Grant and MCS is working closely with industry peers and BEIS to ensure rapid improvements are made ahead of the new March 2022 deadline.

Investing in installer skills

As revealed by our installer database survey (November 2020), two-thirds of enquiries to certified installers in the wake of the Green Homes Grant related to heat pumps.

The government’s ambition is to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028, as described in its 10-point plan for a “Green Industrial Revolution”. MCS quality assurance will be critical to ensuring quality installations and inspiring consumer confidence for what will be a dramatic – and necessary – increase in the deployment of heat pumps in people’s homes.

It goes without saying that training and skills development will be vital in enabling the sector to meet these bold targets.

To get the ball rolling, MCS has recently partnered with building services training provider, GTEC, to help existing tradespeople access discounted training for the installation of heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal.

Backed by BEIS, the Renewable Heat Installer Training & Support Scheme (RHITSS) intends to enable more installers to meet the demands being put on the industry as a result of the Green Homes Grant.

The RHITSS is a whole package designed to provide financial incentives and make the process of becoming an MCS certified installer, who can deliver work under the Green Homes Grant, as easy as possible.

Open to individuals and small businesses, the support includes vouchers which will cover up to 70 per cent of the cost of training and the various certifications required, finding suitable training providers, and overcoming the practical barriers to help them become MCS and Trustmark registered.

Investment in training of this kind will go some way to securing the 20,000 to 30,000 installers that this sector will need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.