Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

Quality assurance at heart of new £2 billion green homes grants

Published: 5 August 2020 - Neil Mead

Tradespeople are urged to sign up for TrustMark accreditation as part of the new Green Homes Grant scheme. Builders, plumbers, and other tradespeople across England will need a government-backed seal of approval to provide their services as part of the new £2 billion Green Homes Grant going live at the end of September.

 

The new scheme will see the government fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements of over 600,000 homes, supporting over 100,000 jobs in green construction.

Tradespeople must register for TrustMark or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation to take part in the scheme, which will cover green home improvements ranging from insulation of walls, floors and roofs, to the installation of low-carbon heating, like heat pumps or solar thermal – measures that could help families save up to £600 a year on their energy bills.

The government is today setting out further details of the range of measures included and how consumers in England will be able to claim the new vouchers, which are worth up to £5,000 for homeowners. Households on low income can receive vouchers covering 100% of the cost of the improvements, up to a maximum of £10,000.

Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said: "Green home improvements will save people money on their energy bills, help to cut carbon emissions, and create new work for many thousands of builders, plumbers and other tradespeople. Our TrustMark scheme will guarantee that building work is completed to a high standard by accredited tradespeople, ensuring consumers are fully protected."

TrustMark is the government-endorsed quality scheme covering work a consumer chooses to have carried out on their home. Households will be able to choose from approved tradespeople in their areas to carry out the work, but only approved and accredited installers will be able to be commissioned, ensuring high standards and consumer protection.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: "The Green Homes Grant is a vital part of our plan for jobs as we secure the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus. This is going to be a green recovery with concern for our environment at its heart. It will help to protect and create jobs, while also saving people money and cutting carbon."

The Green Homes Grants will give homeowners, including owner occupiers and social/private landlords, vouchers to install one or more of the following:

  • Solid wall, under-floor, cavity wall or roof insulation
  • Air source or ground source heat pump
  • Solar thermal

In addition, households can use their voucher for further energy saving measures. These include one or more of the following:

  • Double or triple glazing/secondary glazing, when replacing single glazing
  • Upgrading to energy efficient doors
  • Hot water tank/appliance tank thermostats/heating controls

Later this month, homeowners across England will be able to access advice and support on improving the energy efficiency of their homes from the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) service. SEA will suggest appropriate home improvements that homeowners may be able to apply for support in funding.

Households will be offered a list of approved TrustMark and MCS registered tradespeople in their local area to carry out the work. Once the works are agreed, vouchers will start to be issued from the end of September so work can commence.

For example, if a homeowner of a semi-detached or end-terrace installed cavity wall and floor insulation, costing around £4,000, the homeowner would pay just £1,320 – with the government paying £2,680. Doing so could save the owner over £200 annually on their bills and reduce their carbon footprint by cutting 700 kg of CO2 a year from their home alone.

Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, Mike Thornton, said: "The Green Homes Grant is a significant investment by the government in energy efficiency which will provide long term benefits to householders and the environment by cutting fuel bills and reducing carbon emissions. It will particularly help low-income households access much-needed funds to make their homes warmer. I would really encourage homeowners to apply for the scheme.

"The funding will mean warmer homes for 600,000 households, with those on low income who are owner occupiers and in receipt of income-based or disability benefits, getting 100% subsidy up to a maximum government contribution of £10,000. As part of this package, £500 million will be earmarked specifically to support low-income, fuel poor households, including those living in rented accommodation.

Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, Brian Berry, said: "The Green Homes Grant is a really welcome boost for the building industry as it recovers from the impact of COVID-19. The vouchers will be a significant benefit to households wanting to make their homes more energy efficient and reduce their energy bills, whilst providing much needed work for accredited installers at this difficult time."

Chief Executive of TrustMark, Simon Ayers, said: "Consumer confidence is not only essential to the recovery of the UK’s economy, but also to the protection and creation of key jobs that will support the long-term delivery of quality green home improvements.

"That’s why having TrustMark accredited tradespeople will provide households with the confidence they need that those working on their homes have been thoroughly vetted for technical competence, customer service and trading practices."

Heating buildings accounts for almost a fifth of UK greenhouse gas emissions and reducing carbon dioxide from homes will be essential to reaching net zero by 2050.

The government’s wider green package, announced earlier this month by the Chancellor, also includes an additional £1 billion programme to make public buildings, including schools and hospitals across the UK more energy efficient. An additional £50 million will pilot innovative approaches to retrofitting social housing at scale.

All heat pump installers must be registered with MCS in order to carry out work under the Green Homes Grant. They can get certified on the MCS website.

£500 million of the £2 billion will be administered by local authorities across England through the Green Home Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme. Local authorities will be able to bid for funding to support low-income households in their area.

 

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