Feature

Jobs in jeopardy as GHG scheme scrapping rumours surface

Scrapping the GHG scheme will put jobs in jeopardy, dash the dreams of homeowners and put the UK’s net zero target at risk

Rumours have surfaced today that the Green Home Grant Voucher Scheme (GHGVS) will be scrapped in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget announcement, coming next week. Highlighted by nearly 20 organisations representing or working within energy efficiency and low carbon heating sector, scrapping the scheme will put jobs in jeopardy and endanger the UK’s abilities to reach net zero targets at risk.

A survey conducted by Solar Energy UK, MCS, REAL and HIES found that while 51% of installers had hired new workers for the scheme, 34% are now unlikely to retain these new staff and a further 17% have already let their recent new hires go. Alongside this, 35% said that delays to scheme payments are now threatening the viability of their business.

The GHGVS was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in July 2020, with the intention of kickstarting a green recovery, creating jobs and enabling homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

The £2 billion scheme, designed to provide vouchers for green home technologies, such as solar thermal, heat pumps and solar PV has been met with high demand from homeowners and the industry, but the figures released by BEIS highlighted a shortfall from Government. Whilst there were 69,200 applications for the GHG by the end of January this year, only around 21,000 had a voucher issued, with only 2,777 measures actually installed.

In response to the rumours, 19 organisations representing or working within energy efficiency and low carbon heating sector have written to Government Ministers highlighting the importance of the continued and successful delivery of the voucher scheme.

Derek Horrocks, chairman of the National Insulation Association, said:
“Stable policy is needed to provide the industry with the confidence it needs to invest and adapt to the demands of the net zero transition. Enquiries for insulation and low carbon heating have been extremely high, in spite of the current circumstances, and companies across the sector have responded and geared up the supply chain to meet demand.

“That’s why we would urge the Chancellor not to curtail the Green Homes Grant to ensure that our sector can lead the UK’s economic recovery and meet the government’s net zero ambitions.”

In addition, the Heat Pump Federation (HPF) and Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA) have announced their own concerns over the rumours. Although the GHG has had a great deal of criticism, the scheme has successfully raised customer awareness of heat pump technology to a level that no other intervention to date has achieved.

Laura Bishop, chair of the GSHPA, said:
“On this basis alone, the HPF and GSHPA were delighted that a second full financial year had been announced and have been working with officials in BEIS to improve take up amongst their members. In our opinion, it would be entirely feasible to improve the scheme and to see deployment numbers rise significantly as a result.”

The GSHPA and HPF encourage Ministers at BEIS to ask the Chancellor to retain the Green Homes Grant, and to either roll over unspent funds into 2021-22, or to otherwise increase the second year budget. This comes after it was announced that any unspent funding would not be rolled over into this year or next, which could be up to £1.4 billion. If the Government wanted to pull the rug from beneath both consumers and installers, pulling the £320 million investment – allocated to 2021/2022 – announced by the Chancellor, is a sure-fire way of doing it.