The Green Homes Grant is to reportedly be shuttered in March, less than a year after it first began operation.
The £2 billion scheme is designed to provide vouchers for green home technologies such as solar thermal, heat pumps and – in the Local Authority allocation – solar PV, and is administered by American firm ICF.
However, according to The Times the scheme will be scrapped in March 2021, having first been announced last summer and opening at the end of September 2020.
When asked by Solar Power Portal if that was the case, a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme was designed to provide a short-term economic stimulus while tackling our contribution to climate change. However, the prevalence of COVID-19 since the scheme’s launch in September last year has led to an understandable reluctance on the part of the public to welcome tradespeople into their homes.”
A spokesperson for Solar Energy UK pointed to official figures released by BEIS yesterday that shows whilst there were 69,200 applications by the end of January 2021, only around 21,000 had a voucher issued, with 2,777 measures actually installed.
These figures “show clear demand” for the scheme, the Solar Energy UK spokesperson said, adding that the trade association “hasn't seen a lack of demand”.
Indeed, there have been many reports in recent weeks of administrative delays to the scheme that have resulted in a lower uptake rather than low public demand, with members of the public waiting months to be issued vouchers and there being delays in installers being paid.
A letter sent to the Prime Minister and Chancellor this week from NGOs and thinktanks described the scheme as having been “beset with challenges”, with this not being a result of a lack of public demand but “administrative delays and complications with execution”.
Additionally, it was announced that any unspent funding would not be rolled over into 2021/22, with this letter from NGOs and thinktanks to the Prime Minister detailing how this could be up to £1.4 billion.
The BEIS spokesperson reiterated that: “In his Spending Review, the Chancellor announced £320 million for the scheme in the next financial year, as part of funding to make homes and public buildings more energy efficient.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for Solar Energy UK continued to tell Solar Power Portal that if the government doesn't continue to invest in green homes improvements, it will have “effectively pulled the rug out from consumers and installers”.
A survey conducted by Solar Energy UK, MCS, HIES and REAL 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 businesses.
Alongside this, earlier this month the Environmental Audit Committee warned that at the current rate of deployment of the scheme, it will take ten years to meet the government’s target.