3 ideas for the government to help the trade industry help the nation

With the cost of energy souring, here are my three quick ideas for how the government can help the trade industry help the nation.

Bring back subsidies on green energy generation programs.

My first idea is to help homeowners to reduce their reliance on the grid by producing their own energy.

Remember the wild west days of discount solar and excellent feed-in tariffs? Back in 2010 it seemed that everyone was getting in on the solar craze, but the truth is, it was just too early. Innovation with solar and especially battery storage has dramatically improved over the past couple of years, there is just one problem, it’s too expensive.

In 2020 the government introduced a series of green vouchers. While the idea was sound the program was a complete failure, they were too restrictive and only focused on energy reduction, not generation.

Here is a thought: cut VAT on green products from 5% to 0% and introduce interest-free loans for solar installations. Scotland already has something similar, which is incredibly popular; roll it out to the rest of the nation.

solar pannels installation

Back heating engineers with a decent boiler scrappage scheme.

Idea two is to reintroduce an old idea, the boiler scrappage scheme.

Home heating is responsible for over half of the average monthly energy bill, and there are a lot of old boilers out there burning both gas and cash.

Back in 2009 the Boiler Scrappage Scheme was hugely popular and encouraged households to ditch their old boilers in favour of new, modern and highly efficient ones. 

Unfortunately, the scheme had a finite amount of funding and was sadly discontinued. 

Bring it back and increase the funding to help the transition to heat pumps or new highly efficient gas boilers. Good for homeowners, good for UK manufacturers and excellent for heating installers.

Free upskilling for tradespeople

Running a trade business is a challenging endeavour; homeowners act surprised when they struggle to get quotes on time or find a good tradesperson. The truth is there is a lot to do, and tradespeople don't have the luxury of sitting behind a desk!

Keeping on top of relevant skills and training is also a challenge. Some trades are regulated, so they must attend courses to maintain accreditations. However, there is a vast skills shortage in the UK, especially for newer trade skills.

Where I live, there is now a 9-month waiting list for electric car charging points from a local car dealer. Lead times on solar installs are now running close to 8 months, and I've been waiting for a call back for a heat pump service since December (4 months at the time of writing).

Wrapping up

None of these issues are supply related, it's a people problem; there are simply not enough people with the relevant skills to carry out the work.

Why not introduce a program to help upskill the UK's brilliant tradespeople with modern skills? For example, why can't roofers install solar panels?

UK tradespeople are the best in the business; with some financial and academic help, the government can help turbocharge a revolution in cost savings for homeowners.

About the author

Benjamin Dyer is CEO and co-founder of Powered Now. Powered Now’s mobile app aims to take the pain out of paperwork for plumbers, electricians, builders and other trade businesses.

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