Only 43,000 homes have been made greener by a now-closed government improvement scheme – 7 per cent of the total it was supposed to help.
Official data shows 43,166 houses have made green changes to their homes using the scheme as of early January, around 10 months after applications closed. In total, 76,600 vouchers for improvements have been issued.
Environmental groups said the scheme had been a “failure” and “ill-conceived”, while the Green Party called it a “shambles from the start”.
Under the scheme, homeowners could get vouchers to partially or fully fund green improvements such as insulation, double or triple glazing and low-carbon heating such as heat pumps. The government said these measures could help households save up to £600 a year on energy bills.
Figures published on Thursday show 113,700 households applied during the six month application window, which ran from autumn 2020 to spring 2021.
Tens of thousands had requests rejected, while over 20,000 saw their vouchers – which are valid for three months – expire.
As of 7 January, just over 43,000 houses had installed at least one green home improvement using vouchers. This was 7 per cent of the 600,000 homes the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the scheme would help when it launched in autumn 2020.
Cara Jenkinson from the climate charity Ashden told The Independent: “We are not surprised by these disappointing numbers.” She said the scheme was “ill-conceived from the start”, with “unrealistic” timelines and poor administration.
Ashden’s cities manager added: “What is even more disappointing is that there is still no replacement scheme, leaving the UK falling further behind on carbon reduction targets, and more householders exposed to ever-rising energy bills.”
Millions are expected to see household bills rise again in spring, with estimates they could rise by up to 50 per cent.
Kate Blagojevic from Greenpeace told The Independent: “As energy prices rocket skywards, it’s become more and more apparent what a disaster this botched scheme was. The single best way to protect households from volatile gas prices is to make their homes energy efficient so they need to use less gas.”
She added: “However, the government’s shoddy handling of the scheme meant it was a failure and now hard-working families are being forced to pay the price.”
The scheme funded homeowners up to two-thirds of the cost of green home improvements, up to £5,000, and fully funded work up to £10,000 for low-income households.
It was initially due to end on 31 March 2021 before being extended by a year. This decision was later reversed – sparking backlash from environmental groups – and people were told applications would close within days.
Carla Denyer, the co-leader of the Green Party, told The Independent: “The green homes grant has been a shambles from the start and shows how Boris Johnson’s government is failing us on both the climate emergency and the cost of living crisis.”
A BEIS spokesperson said: “The green homes grant was always a temporary scheme available to homeowners in England who chose to apply, and designed as a short-term economic stimulus.”
They added: “While that particular scheme has now closed, we are investing almost £6.6bn to support people to install energy efficiency measures across the country, as well as other support like the £450m boiler upgrade scheme to help households switch to more efficient heating systems.”
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