Solar to benefit from £1.5 billion BEIS boost to support energy efficiency in homes. Image: BEIS.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is providing £1.5 billion to improve the energy efficiency of 130,000 low-income households across the UK, with solar to benefit.

Set to be delivered as part of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grant schemes, the government will allow social housing providers and local authorities to submit bids for the funding to reduce energy bills.

Solar benefited from the previous Green Homes Grant, first introduced in 2020. As of the end of November 2021, 472 solar PV installations had been achieved under Phase Two of the Local Authority Delivery of the grant.

As of the end of November 2021, this represented 50% of all measures installed under the second phase so far, with 952 measures installed in total. This also included 342 insulation installations (36%) and 89 air source heat pump installations (9%).

The government aims to build on the previous failings of the Green Homes Grant, with it having been plagued with issues throughout its lifespan. One of the primary issues had been long delays.

It was reported that members of the public had been waiting months to be issued vouchers and there being delays in installers being paid. This had led the Environmental Audit Committee to describe the domestic decarbonisation support as “woefully inadequate”.

On the shuttering of the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme in 2021, Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett said the early closure of the scheme will “hurt installation companies that have invested staff in good faith to meet the strong demand for solar thermal technology and will inevitably lead to job losses”.

He added that scrapping the scheme is “disappointing”, suggesting the government should learn from the success of the Local Authority Delivery and “build a long-term policy to create viable job growth and a green economic recovery”.

The government seems to have learnt from the errors of its previous Green Homes Grant failure and has allowed local authorities and social housing providers to submit bids for funding to upgrade properties of around 130,000 low-income and social households.

Once these bids have been accepted, the upgrades will be delivered from early next year until March 2025. This builds upon more than 30,000 homes that have already been upgraded via the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grant schemes.

“Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, would have had dire consequences on the energy bills of both households and businesses this winter, without the government’s decisive action. Today I am cutting costs even further for the most vulnerable households for years to come,” said Jacob Rees-Mogg, Business and Energy Secretary.

“By making homes warmer and cheaper to live in, we are not only transforming the lives of households across England, we are creating huge growth in the economy, backing the green energy sector and supporting thousands of high-skilled jobs.”

The new funding forms part of £12 billion combined funding under the government’s Help to Heat schemes which also features targeted support via local authority delivery and energy company obligation schemes.

“The launch of the second wave of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is hugely welcome. This vital funding will enable housing associations across the country to make significant progress in retrofitting and decarbonising their homes – work that not only cuts carbon emissions but saves residents money on their heating bills,” said Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation.

“We know that England's homes produce more carbon each year than the average annual use of the country's cars, so decarbonising social homes has a pivotal role to play to meeting the country’s net zero target. 

“The National Housing Federation and our members look forward to continuing to work with BEIS to demonstrate the benefits that decarbonising homes has on residents' lives.” 

According to the BEIS, the new upgrades being implemented into the homes could see a reduction in energy bills by around £400 to £700 per year. This could be crucial for the UK to reduce energy demand amid the energy crisis inflicted by high wholesale gas prices.