Homeowners applying for the government’s £5,000 Green Homes Grants to make energy improvements to their home have described the difficulties they’ve experience in finding an accredited installer to do the work, leading the Moneysavingexpert’s Martin Lewis to call the scheme a “postcode lottery”.
Homeowners in Cornwall, for example, have been pointed toward installers as far away as Scotland, Manchester, and south Wales – who, due to their location are not interested in quoting for their work.
The Green Homes Grant scheme, which was first announced in July, went live at the start of October.
To gain a grant – which cover two-thirds of the cost of insulation or installing low-carbon heating – homeowners must get quotes from contractors who are TrustMark registered and listed on the official Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website.
Yet, large swathes of the country appear to have no contractors willing or able to do the work.
Further, some of the contractors listed on the site report they have been given little or no information on how the £2bn scheme should operate.
The paucity of installers, the fact that all work has to be conducted with in a six-month period, and the “complicated” nature of the scheme is causing some applicants to consider giving up.
‘Very low’ take-up by contractors
Thea Skinner, from Millbrook near Plymouth, has been finding it difficult to get a quote to insulate a room in her roof via the grant.
“The TrustMark website said there were only four accredited installers capable of the work – two north of Manchester and two in Scotland,” she said.
“The SEA website found two in Plymouth, but the only one to call me back said they were yet to receive any information from the government as to how to manage and carry out these quotes – a third was in Wales, which isn’t even part of the scheme.”
She said the SEA call centre told her the scheme had received a “very low” take-up by local contractors and even suggested she try to persuade some to become accredited herself.
“The suggestion that I should go out try and find a local builder and then guide him through the TrustMark accreditation process is ridiculous and doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in that process,” she said.
Moneysavingexpert founder Martin Lewis has warned that the Green Homes Grant scheme risks becoming a “postcode lottery” without immediate government action.
Lewis has since called on the government to urgently fix the scheme’s “systemic design flaws”.
He said the money should be released in “tranches” to allow those living in rural areas off the gas grid a chance to qualify for the scheme.
A government spokesman said: “Almost 1,000 companies have signed up to the Green Homes Grant so far, with more registering every day, including many businesses that operate nationally with substantial capacity to carry out work across the country.
“We are working closely with industry to ensure there are enough installers to meet demand.”
More than 9,400 applications had been made in the first few days of the Green Homes Grant scheme, he added.
More than 1,000 businesses had also applied for the scheme in the initial period after launch.
A recent report by the UK Energy Research Centre warned that, at current rates, it will take 700 years for Britain to fully make the switch to low-carbon heating – adding that at least 19,000 homes must be upgraded per week every year until 2050.
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