MCS responds to the closure of the Green Homes Grant

Following several months of speculation surrounding the future of the Green Homes Grant, the government has announced that the initiative is set to be scrapped as of 31 March 2021.

The scheme – introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in September 2020 – was designed to drive much-needed uptake of home-grown green energy in Britain, provide a boost for the industry, and set us on a course to net zero by 2050.

Instead, it was beset by problems from the outset, with installers and consumers alike finding it difficult to navigate thanks to a convoluted application process combined with the backlog of work caused by nationwide lockdowns.

The funding allocated by government for the grant will now go into an insulation programme administered by local authorities, targeted at lower income households.

So far, no mention of ongoing support for small-scale renewables has been made and MCS continues to work with government to ensure the sector and installers are properly supported.

Our CEO responds

In the aftermath of the announcement, MCS CEO, Ian Rippin, has described the government’s closure of the Green Homes Grant as ‘disappointing and frustrating.’

“We have worked extremely hard with government to support its more recent promises of a ‘green revolution’ and offers of support for our sector following a difficult year for installers,” says Rippin.

“However, the scheme was so complicated to navigate for both installers and consumers; they have had to wade through convoluted processes, unpick confusing information and face a huge administrative burden”.

“This is now a time for serious reflection – this cannot happen again. Confidence levels across the sector have been shaken and the industry faces yet another policy cliff-edge.”

MCS was a key proponent of the scheme and continually lobbied BEIS to make improvements on behalf of installers, many of whom found the grant unworkable.

The latest data on Green Homes Grant uptake to the end of February shows applications for more than 123,000 vouchers, with just over 28,000 vouchers issued and 5,804 installations.

In short, only a fraction of what had been assigned to the scheme has been realised.

“Without doubt, the decarbonisation of the UK’s housing stock needs to be taken more seriously, but the government is failing to grasp the challenge,” Rippin continues.

“In our latest report – Renewing Britain – we shine a light on Britain’s relationship with small-scale renewable technologies over the past 14 years.

“The intention is to help government and industry learn from thriving markets (forests) and identify barriers in areas where domestic renewables have had little or no penetration (deserts).”

Renewing Britain concludes that we will be unable to reach net zero carbon by 2050 unless urgent action is taken; it would take more than 250 years for small-scale renewables to reach every household at current deployment rates.

MCS is making three key recommendations to the government:

  1. Learn from the successes of the devolved administrations and other tiers of government identified in the report: in particular, Scotland’s “whole-system” approach, which sets the benchmark on a national level.
  2. Use those lessons to set clear, evidence-driven, and ambitious targets delivered through long-term incentives to close current gaps and drive an increase in installations.
  3. Devise an integrated package of support for small-scale renewables that is targeted to people and the areas they live. Cost reduction to improve accessibility and consumer awareness founded on impartial, independent advice should be at the heart of any support package.

“Renewing Britain outlines key recommendations for government to boost support for small-scale renewables on a national level,” Rippin adds.

“We want to continue working with government to make future incentives work. There is a real enthusiasm from across our industry to give feedback and provide insights on why the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme failed.

“Without meaningful, well-informed plans and long-term policies to decarbonise the nation’s homes, the government’s credibility on net zero will continue to diminish.”