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Minister: ‘Government £1.5 billion green homes scheme flopped because it was rushed’

·2-min read
Business Minister Lord Callanan (PA)
Business Minister Lord Callanan (PA)

A minister has admitted a flagship Government scheme to help people make their homes more environmentally friendly flopped because the roll out was too rushed.

The £1.5 billion Green Homes Grant programme was launched last July to boost Britain’s ‘green recovery’ from the Covid pandemic and to help hit the UK hit its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The scheme offered homeowners the chance to claim grants of up to £5000 to install energy efficiency improvements and low carbon heat measures.

But Business Minister Lord Callanan told MPs this week that only 80,000 of the vouchers were issued before it was scrapped in March - well short of the projected target of 600,000.

“It’s fair to say the Green Homes Grant has not been one of our finest success stories,” Lord Callanan told MPs at a select committee hearing this week. “It clearly did not fulfil the huge expectations.”

He went on to blame “fairly challenging timelines” for the scheme’s failure, adding that the Government should have run local pilots before launching it nationwide.

Lord Callanan’s candid comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing for other countries to step up on their climate commitments ahead of the crunch COP26 summit in Glasgow in November.

Badly insulated and inefficient buildings contribute around 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, according to a recent report by the spending watchdog, the National Audit Office.

In its damning report, the NAO criticised the Treasury and Business Department for failing to reconcile the short term aim of creating green jobs and the long term ambition of reducing carbon emissions.

“Short-term thinking killed the Green Homes Grant,” said Juliet Phillips, Senior Policy Advisor at climate change think-tank E3G. “Now is the time for a long-term infrastructure plan to decarbonise our homes with a grant scheme for insulation and heat pumps at its heart that is built on the NAO’s advice, boosting business and consumer confidence.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The Green Homes Grant voucher scheme was designed as a short-term economic stimulus and was delivered during an ongoing pandemic. Despite this, and challenges with delivery, 99.9% of applications have now been processed, meaning almost 80,000 upgrades to homes. Other parts of the Green Homes Grant are continuing to effectively transform the energy efficiency of local authority housing.”

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