Martin Lewis lays bare ‘systemic flaws’ with new £5000 Green Homes Grant

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That’s the good news, the bad, is the scheme has some systemic design flaws that many will find deeply frustrating. Let me take you through it.

Launched just before the start of the month, the Green Homes Grant is…

  • Available to all English homeowners (including park homes) and residential landlords apart from unoccupied new builds.

  • It gives grants (ie non repayable) of up to £5,000 per household to cover two thirds of the cost of labour, materials, and VAT of installing certain energy efficient measures. So, if the installation costs £7,500, you’ll get a £5,000 voucher from the Government and you pay the remaining £2,500.

  • Those on certain benefits (e.g. housing benefit, universal credit and pension ‘guaranteed’ credit) can claim up to £10,000, which covers the entire cost, you pay nothing.

  • You only have until 31 March 2021, to get the installation completed, that may not be easy for everyone.

That’s the qualifications, but this scheme isn’t simply a case of you get what you want. There are two categories of home improvements which interrelate. 

You must install a PRIMARY improvement

You can only access the scheme if you need what the Government calls a ‘primary’ improvement. These must be new or a top up. It can’t replace what you have already.

These are:

  • Insulation: including solid wall, cavity wall, underfloor, loft or roof. Insulation for a park home is also included.

  • Low-carbon heating: including air-source, ground-source and hybrid heat pumps, solar thermal systems and biomass boilers, which provide renewable ways of heating your home.

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Then you can get up to same amount for SECONDARY improvements

Once you’ve installed the primary improvement, you’ll then be able to get a voucher up to the same amount for a secondary improvement (ie get £1,000 primary voucher, you can get an up to £1,000 secondary voucher).

These include…

  • Windows & doors… draught proofing, double/triple/secondary glazing (only if replacing single), energy efficient replacement doors.

  • Heating controls & insulation… hot water tank thermostat & insulation, smart heating controls, thermostatic radiator valves etc.

How to apply for the vouchers

Use the www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk eligibility checker, to see what may be available to you. It’ll show registered local tradespeople (who must be Trustmark or Microgeneration Certification Scheme registered).

Then get quotes from tradespeople – the Government recommends at least three. Try avoid any firms that ask you to pay for quotes. And do check prices compared to doing it outside the scheme.

Only then can you apply via www.gov.uk/apply-green-homes-grant. Ensure you only start the work once you’ve received the emailed voucher, as the Govt says you can’t claim for any work that’s started before the voucher is issued.

The scheme isn’t flawless and I’m hearing of many issues

Whilst the Green Home Grants scheme may provide serious free cash, there are three major issues I keep hearing about.

Many are frustrated about the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ system – that’s deliberate Government prioritisation, so while it’ll annoy some, it’s by design not by error.

The other two issues are closely related and more concerning.

  1. A decent number are struggling to find approved local installers. One person in the south-east of England emailed my TV show to say their nearest installer shown on the Government system was 250 miles away in Blackpool (feels a bit like getting a Covid test).

  2. Some are then being told they won’t be able to complete the work within the six-month deadline, rendering the scheme useless.

The Government says there are 900 firms signed up to the scheme and more added daily, yet it’s clearly not enough. Worse still, as there’s only £2bn funding available, time is of the essence, or the funds may dry up. It’s a vicious cycle.

My hope is the government will spread the roll out and extend the installation time so more people can access this, any updates will go in www.moneysavingexpert.com/GreenGrants.

Martin Lewis is the Founder and Chair of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip

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