Concerns as Boiler Upgrade Scheme falls short of targets

Recent data regarding the government’s struggling Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) has raised concerns within the industry about the sluggish growth of the heat pump market.

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Figures from energy regulator Ofgem reveal consistently low application numbers for the £5,000 BUS subsidy, falling short of government expectations.

The Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), a prominent energy trade body, contends that these figures underscore the UK’s shortage of trained heat pump installers. This, they speculate, is the reason behind the steady yet unremarkable demand for monthly subsidy vouchers.

Inadequate workforce planning

Approximately 1,500 voucher applications are received monthly, with fewer than 1,000 being paid out. Mike Foster, CEO of EUA, expressed concerns about the scheme and its allocation of taxpayers’ money

“We have our concerns over the principle of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and how it is not the best use of taxpayers’ money, rewarding the well-off not supporting the fuel poor. That said, it seems obvious that there is a problem in the market, not with the administration of the scheme but the lack of trained installers prepared to fit heat pumps under the BUS rules.” 

“Either installers don’t want to comply with the rules, which insist on a minimum level of performance to benefit the consumer, or there are not enough installers. We think it is the latter.” 

“We told the government months ago their workforce planning was out, by a factor of three, and this data seems to back up our fears. There are simply not enough trained installers to fit heat pumps.” 

“What the government could do is to scrap their plans to fine boiler manufacturers for not fitting enough heat pumps and instead encourage them to pay for the training of installers. Getting rid of the Clean Heat Market Mechanism (CHMM) quota and fines would be a start.

“Creating the climate and encouragement for manufacturers to train more installers is a smarter way of delivering more heat pump sales and getting to net zero – which we as an industry are committed to achieving. Otherwise, the CHMM is just a way of adding a boiler tax to gas boilers, with consumers footing the bill for this stealth tax.”