In August 2020, the UK government announced the Green Homes Grant (GHG) scheme towards home improvements.
As per the scheme, tradespersons can continue to visit people’s homes even during COVID-19 restrictions. They must follow all the COVID-19 Secure guidelines.
Now, the government has scrapped the much-heralded scheme. In response, the heating industry and wider building sector have shown dismay.
Quick Look into the GHG Scheme
The UK is known to have the leakiest homes in Western Europe. Hot water and heating are responsible for up to 15% of the country's domestic greenhouse gas emissions. That's why it is important to retrofit UK homes with energy-efficient heating systems. This is an important step to help the UK government reach the net-zero emission target by 2050.
To address this concern, the UK government launched the GHG scheme. It aimed to upgrade 600,000 homes with low-carbon and energy-efficient heating while creating 100,000 jobs.
In March 2021, the government axed the grant prematurely, when it has reached just 10% of its goal. Some amount of the money allocated to the scheme will be transferred to local authorities, targeted at the lower-income population.
The Industry Reaction
However, the industry seems disappointed with the government’s short-sighted decision. The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) says that the decision will make the services industry unconfident to any future government initiatives related to the net-zero target. CEO David Frise says that the government will have a difficult time gaining the industry's trust should it launches another such scheme.
CEO Brian Berry, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), says that the misguided scrapping sends the wrong message to builders and consumers. It will harm the UK’s target to be seen as a global leader in addressing the concern of climate change.
Berry adds that the scheme could be fixed for any flaws in consultation with concerned industries. Many small building firms were to invest in the scheme to qualify for it, and now they will feel let down.
Vaillant, a leading manufacturer of heating, cooling and hot water, says that to reach its 2050 target, the government needs support from all concerned industries. Also, they also have to support net-zero construction techniques. According to the company, the government promised much more than they can deliver. To rebuilt trust within the industry, Valliant has called for a rapid enquiry just after the scrapping of the GHG scheme.
Environmental campaigner and installer Peter Thom has criticized the scrapping. He says that excessive bureaucracy and red tape plays a major role in the failure of such schemes. Thom says that climate change can be addressed with engineering solutions. It does not require an army of accreditation bodies and inspectors.
Over the year 2020, half a million people lost their jobs that won’t come back. Now, scrapping of the GHG scheme has led to the loss of green jobs on a large scale. And, as the UK is to host the world's most important climate summit in November 2021, this step doesn't demonstrate the country's leadership ability.
The government has to pay attention to the industry's reaction and show its seriousness about climate and employment.