Green Homes Grant scheme criticised

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell reports on the National Audit Office’s assessment of the Green Homes Grant scheme.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) did not sufficiently understand the challenges facing installers before the Green Homes Grant scheme was announced, failing to learn from previous schemes, according to the National Audit Office (NAO), which published its findings into the scheme this morning.

The NAO said the scheme did not deliver the expected number of home energy efficiency installations or support the expected number of jobs. So, while Beis forecast that the scheme would deliver energy efficiency measures in 600,000 homes and support up to 82,500 jobs over six months, only 47,500 homes benefited, and 5,600 jobs were supported.

The fundamental issue, it seemed, was that Beis only gave itself 12 weeks from the scheme’s announcement to its launch, which created a number of tensions.

For example, Beis did not fully reconcile the tension between creating jobs quickly, as part of a short-term economic stimulus package, and its aim of delivering a long-term carbon impact. However, it felt urgency was required to stimulate the economy.

In conclusion, NAO said: “The fast pace constrained its procurement options, and its engagement with the installer market and, coupled with the short duration of the scheme, made it hard for energy efficiency installers to mobilise to meet demand.

“While we recognise the desire to act quickly in the interests of delivering an economic stimulus, the government should be prepared to limit or delay the launch of a programme if the evidence suggests it is not ready.

“Previous government attempts to deliver energy efficiency schemes, such as for the Green Deal, have amply illustrated the difficulties of achieving successful delivery in this area.

“It is important that [Beis] and HM Treasury heed the lessons from this, and previous schemes, for any future domestic decarbonisation programme.”