Investing in green jobs/ green recovery: Green Homes Grant scheme
A step in the right direction, but there are no Oxfordshire based accredited suppliers!
Green Councillor calls for local councils and enterprise partnerships to create a fast-track route for local suppliers to become TrustMark accredited
Witney Green Party Town Councillor Andrew Prosser has welcomed the new national Green Homes Grant scheme as a crucial step in upgrading the energy efficiency of homes and a step towards tackling the climate emergency. Grants worth up to £5000 are currently available to help homeowners take measures to make their homes more energy efficient and warmer. Part of the cost of energy-saving “primary” measures, such as installing low-carbon heating or insulation of cavity walls and lofts, and “secondary” measures, including draught proofing and double glazing, would be covered. Some low-income households may be eligible for grants up to £10,000, with 100% of the cost covered.
However, work eligible for grant support under the scheme can only be undertaken by tradespersons and suppliers with appropriate TrustMark accreditation and listed on the official Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website. Unfortunately, it seems that there is a risk of the scheme failing in its objectives due to a shortage of accredited local suppliers. At a time of increased unemployment as a result of the COVID pandemic it is concerning that the opportunity to invest in green skills training and suitable apprenticeship schemes has not been grasped. Cllr Prosser has called for local councils and enterprise partnerships to address this and create a fast-track route for local suppliers to become TrustMark accredited.
Currently two-thirds of UK homes do not meet the target for energy efficiency. As a result, homeowners face higher energy bills and more CO2 is released into the atmosphere. As well as ensuring that new-build homes meet energy efficiency standards there is a need to retrofit homes that currently do not meet these standards. Without a major effort to expand retrofitting activities the chance of the UK meeting its 2050 net zero carbon target appears unrealistic.
The government Green Homes Grant scheme is a small step in the right direction but a failure to ensure that suitably qualified suppliers would be available prior to launching the scheme risks the initiative failing. The scheme is scheduled to close on March 31st 2021 although the National Insulation Association (NIA) has written to the Chancellor pointing out the inadequate time allowed to deliver the objectives and asking for the scheme to be extended.
Cllr Prosser has identified Cosy Homes Oxfordshire as a useful source of help with planning and managing the retrofitting work and hopes that the scheme may yet benefit local homeowners, boost local employment and contribute to tackling the climate emergency. As Andrew says
“Insulating existing homes is something that many businesses can do, helping to generate local jobs, so I was really concerned when I couldn't find any approved (TrustMark) suppliers in Oxfordshire. This is something local business support in Oxfordshire should have picked up and prioritised earlier, and if we don't get awareness up quickly, Oxfordshire companies and the local workforce will miss out on this opportunity.
I've been in contact with the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and they mentioned Cosy Homes and highlighted an investment of around £2.5m with Abingdon & Witney College for the development of a Green Construction Skills Centre. This is a great initiative in its own-right, but still some time off before this centre is up and running.”