Green Homes Grant Say They Are Struggling To Find Installers

Households wishing to take advantage of the Government’s new green home improvement scheme say they are struggling to find approved installers to carry out the work.  The £2billion Green Home Grant initiative is designed to hand out vouchers up to £5,000 for energy-saving improvements such as insulation and double-glazing.  Low-income families are eligible for up to £10,000 under the scheme launched at the end of last month.

But frustrated householders and landlords say they cannot find accredited tradespeople available or willing to carry out the work within the strict six-month completion time. Rebecca Tidy, 33, a university research fellow from Cornwall, had to contact 38 firms before she found one willing to visit her property to quote for attic insulation and solar panel heating.

‘It’s crazy, it all seems so disorganised,’ she says. ‘Some companies had a waiting list from a few months before the scheme was launched. Others were not willing to do work costing less than £14,000.’

To get a grant, householders have to get quotes from contractors who are registered with the Government-approved TrustMark and listed on the official Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website. Rebecca is also eligible for a biomass boiler, but getting one will be almost impossible as there are currently only five TrustMark installers listed on the SEA website in the whole of England.

Andrew Waddle, 53, a depot manager from Newcastle, is also struggling to find any firm willing to quote for double-glazing.

He says: ‘I rang 15 companies in the North East listed on the Government website. Some didn’t answer, some said they were not doing it because of the shambles of previous schemes, while others said they didn’t have the certificates required.’

Applicants in London, York, Middlesbrough, Folkestone and Leicester have reported similar problems.

‘There is only one installer listed in my area and it is so booked up it can’t take on any more customers. I can’t use the scheme,’ says DeAna D’Monte, from Kent. The scheme is also starting to attract criticism from the energy industry. Installers have pointed out that winter is the ‘worst time’ to upgrade insulation or windows as it leaves homes unprotected from cold weather.

Nathalie Rush, managing director of Six Star Group, an insulation firm in the Midlands, says it has received too many inquiries to cope with them all.

A lack of qualified professionals with the necessary skills in the UK and a backlog of home related work following lockdown is putting additional pressure on the tight six-month deadline, says Rush.

She adds: ‘I am very concerned that there will be a lot of homeowners and landlords with vouchers that will expire at the end of next March because there are not the technicians available.’

Comparison website Energyhelpline and certification body Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) are calling on the Government to extend the scheme.

MCS chief Ian Rippin says: ‘If one of the key aims of the scheme is to create 100,000 new jobs within energy and renewables, then the current window simply does not equip those in the sector with the confidence to make the necessary long-term investment.’

Simon Ayers, chief executive of TrustMark, says there are now 1,100 registered installers overseeing up to 20,000 certified sub-contractors. But he acknowledges some companies are still ‘on the fence’ as they wait for Government clarity. ‘We have created a massive market spike,’ he says.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says it is ‘working closely with industry to ensure there are enough installers to meet demand’.

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