Following the news in the Chancellor’s announcement last week of the Government’s new Green Homes Grant Scheme, the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) received many calls and emails from anxious Members with some serious concerns regarding the scheme and its impact on their businesses.
Having listened to Members’ concerns, the GGF, as the industry’s main trade body, was quickly in contact with the Government department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Ongoing communications with BEIS on the matter have followed as the GGF aims to get more details of this major Government initiative.
The GGF asked five key questions and received the following answers from BEIS.
GGF: Is the Green Homes Grant Scheme going to include energy-efficient windows and doors?
BEIS: Yes, but as part of a wider refurbishment of homes aimed at achieving EPC Level C. The aim of the scheme is to significantly improve energy and heat efficiency, which can only be achieved by a number of measures.
GGF: Is there any possibility of the scheme being brought forward from September to say early August? As many companies in our sector are concerned that the two or three month delay in orders could create a hiatus and seriously affect their business and cash flow following the COVID-19 impact on their businesses.
BEIS: It’s highly unlikely that the scheme will be brought forward.
GGF: It has been mentioned that consumers will be able to claim for vouchers and then pass them on to “approved installers”. Can you clarify how the scheme is going to be administered and what the criteria would be for “approved installers”?
BEIS: We do not have further details of the criteria at this stage. However, it’s fair to assume installers would need to be qualified and registered with a relevant body or scheme to demonstrate they are competent to perform the work and ensure appropriate consumer protection.
GGF: Who is actually going to administer the scheme?
BEIS: Funding will be provided to BEIS, and administered through the Simple Energy Advice website.
GGF: Can you provide any information on the application criteria for homeowners? For example, will be means tested? Is there a timeframe for application and deadlines for work to be carried out following successful application?
BEIS: Landlords or homeowners in England only will be able to apply to the scheme. It will be means-tested, with part-funding for measures covering up to two-thirds of the cost, subject to a ceiling of £5K for those not on low incomes, but the full cost of these measures subject to a ceiling of £10K available for low-income households. Applications will be through the Simple Energy Advice website, and vouchers will be issued to homeowners if their application is successful. It is expected that details of the timeframe within which this works needs to be done and published before the scheme starts in September.
On receiving these answers from Government, John Agnew, GGF Managing Director commented:
“Having heard some more of the detail, we are now cautiously optimistic about this proposed new scheme. On the day of the announcement, we listened to Members’ reactions and we fully share their concerns. Although we are pleased the Government is responding to our queries fairly quickly, we are still uncertain about the real impact of this scheme and its potential benefits to our Members.
We have already received numerous reports of consumers putting off orders until the scheme is launched in September, so they can benefit from the funding. The scheme’s timing is clearly creating a hiatus in trade and is seriously disturbing news for the sector.”
“We appreciate this scheme is part of the Government’s long term plan to make existing properties more energy efficient and this is welcomed, but with the COVID-19 pandemic still with us and its negative impact on business and consumer confidence, the last thing we need is another damaging blow that could create cash flow problems and an employment crisis in the industry.”
With more reports of customer cancellations, the GGF has since written directly to Cabinet Ministers and Junior Ministers in the Government departments of BEIS, The Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Office, urging them to take immediate action.
The GGF has also issued a template letter to all its Members asking them to write to their local MPs to increase traction with Government and to try and influence change.
The template letter not only highlights the issue of the timing of the scheme and the damaging impact it is having on the industry, but it also proposes solutions, such as fast tracking the scheme or allowing homeowners to claim funding retrospectively. Both proposed solutions could retrieve the situation.
On Friday 10 July, the GGF attended the Government Work Stream on Repair Maintenance and Improvement (RMI) – a video-meeting hosted by BEIS and attended by home improvement trade bodies to help shape the strategies and policies to enable the industry to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Following the meeting, John Agnew commented, “At our video meeting with Government, I once again robustly conveyed our feelings on the timings of the Green Homes Grant Scheme and underlined how it is negatively affecting the home improvement sector. We now await the Government’s response to our latest questions and any further news we receive will be cascaded to Members as soon as possible. In the meantime we will continue to help our Members through this extremely difficult time.”