The Green Homes Grant voucher scheme is to close early on 31 March following repeated delays and administrative issues.
The government confirmed the decision to close the scheme was made following a review, stating that it was designed to provide a short-term economic boost while tackling climate change.
This follows reports that the scheme would close early this month, with the government now assuring that all applications made by the deadline will be honoured, with any vouchers already issued having the possibility of being extended upon request.
Figures released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) earlier this month showed that as of the end of February 2021 there have been 123,537 voucher applications, with 28,277 vouchers issued and 5,804 installations of green technology.
However, only 2,908 vouchers have been paid for. This echoed previous reports of members of the public waiting months to be issued vouchers and there being delays in installers being paid.
The scheme has been subject to much criticism as a result of its administrative problems and cuts to the funding available, including most recently from the Environmental Audit Committee which described domestic decarbonisation support as being “woefully inadequate”.
Conversely, the Local Authority Delivery Scheme – which makes up £500 million of the £2 billion Green Homes Grant – has dodged these hurdles, with BEIS announcing earlier this month the full allocation of the funding.
As part of the confirmation of the closure of the Voucher Scheme, BEIS also unveiled an additional £300 million in funding for Local Authority green homes upgrades. It is therefore extending the Local Authority Delivery, with more details to be announced later this year when it is formally launched for applications.
This takes the total funding for energy efficiency and low carbon heating in 2021/22 to over £1.3 billion, with the remainder of the funding having been pledged through the decarbonisation fund.
Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said this £1.3 billion will give installers “the certainty they need to plan ahead, create new jobs and train the next generation of builders, plumbers and tradespeople”.
However, in response to today’s announcement Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett said that the early closure of the scheme will “hurt installation companies that have invested staff in good faith to meet the strong demand for solar thermal technology and will inevitably lead to job losses”.
He added that scrapping the scheme is “disappointing”, suggesting the government should learn from the success of the Local Authority Delivery and “build a long-term policy to create viable job growth and a green economic recovery”.