Boiler Upgrade Scheme – Positive progress, but more is needed
30th August 2022
Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, shares his view on the Boiler Upgrade Scheme with Installer Magazine.
In May, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) opened for applications for people seeking to replace fossil fuel boilers with renewable heating systems. The scheme is a further incentive in support of the Government’s target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.
Typically, as part of the scheme, consumers will receive a £5,000 grant for air source heat pumps (and biomass boilers in very specific circumstances) and £6,000 for ground source heat pump installations.
Given the ambition of the scheme, the roll out was always going to be slow. However we could not have anticipated the scheme would become part of the Conservative leadership contest with the Prime Ministerial candidates announcing their intention to end the scheme and divert cash towards efforts to improve household insulation. Such uncertainty is never helpful, especially for a scheme which is in its infancy.
That said, BUS uptake is gaining momentum week-on-week. The most recent Ofgem figures report there have been 2,930 vouchers issued and 912 redeemed as consumers are seeing the benefits of investing in home-grown energy.
In all, the £450m scheme will run for three years, with £150m ringfenced for grant funding per year. It’s vital we do not lose sight of this timescale when assessing the BUS so early on in its lifespan.
While it is promising that we are starting to see payments being made to installers, there remains some concern among our installer community that the process is difficult to manage. We hope this will ease once Ofgem launches its online portal in November 2022 to replace the current 12-page application form.
Some critics also argue another barrier to uptake is that the grant funding available is too low and question the scheme’s affordability in terms of the upfront capital that homeowners still have to provide. It’s important for installers to continue to inform their customers about the longer-term reduction in household energy bills and greater energy efficiency gains, as well as the emissions reductions. It is not a simple like-for-like comparison.
Given the BUS feedback we’ve received from installers so far, we are ensuring that the voices of the entire heat pump contractor base is heard by surveying our certified installers and passing our insights directly back to Ofgem and government colleagues. We also continue to support Ofgem as the administrator for BUS, as we work to uphold compliance and provide assurance with the scheme regulations.
The challenge of decarbonising heat means it is important we all collaborate and learn from each other as we move away from fossil fuels.
Meeting growing demand
As the BUS matures, public opinion is shifting favourably towards renewable heating. In fact, the Spring 2022 update to the BEIS Heat and Energy in the Home Public Attitudes Tracker found that 24% of UK homeowners are now likely to install a heat pump.
To meet the increasing demand from this interest, we are preparing to recruit and train an “army” of heat pump installers for the UK. Just one element of this effort is the introduction of the Low Carbon Heating Technician apprenticeship scheme which will launch next year. This will create a pipeline of new talent to join the 200 contractors who are currently undergoing the certification process to join over 1,300 heat pump installers already certified by MCS.
Evidently, more skilled workers are needed to meet government targets, service growing demand from consumers and realise the industry’s potential. This is a rallying cry for other companies to join the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. This is a challenge we need to face together.
For more information:
Installers that wish to submit applications for the BUS can register with Ofgem now. Visit the MCS website: mcscertified.com/boiler-upgrade-scheme/
We are always keen to hear installers’ views on the BUS. If you have feedback, want to share an opinion, or need some help, contact us here: mcscertified.com/about-us/contact-us/