HOMEOWNERS can be given £5,000 in energy saving vouchers to help them insulate their homes.
The Green Homes Grant sees families given a voucher worth £5,000 – or £10,000 for low-income households – to spend on energy-saving improvements in their home.
The government says the initiative could save households more than £200 annually on energy bills, as well as reducing their carbon footprint by cutting 700kg of CO2 a year.
However, last month the government revealed that hundreds of millions of pounds are being withdrawn from the programme come March.
A total of £2billion had originally been set aside for households but the majority remains unspent.
MPs also blasted the scheme for running at a “snails pace” after it emerged last month that only 20,000 of the 600,000 vouchers available had been dished out.
After the scheme was extended from March 2021 to March 2020, the government announced that only $320m of the unspent funds would be rolled over into the next year from March.
Meanwhile, money saving expert Tim Lewis has urged eligible households to apply as soon as possible amid rumours the scheme could be pulled altogether.
So here we look at what the vouchers are, how the scheme works, who is eligible and how to apply.
What are the vouchers?
The grants – confirmed on July 8 in the mini-Budget – came as part of a wider £3billion investment in green technology, with the UK aiming to go carbon neutral by 2050.
The vouchers are worth up to £5,000 for homeowners. The government will cover at least two thirds of the cost that homeowners in England spend on green upgrades up to this amount.
This means a householder would pay £1,320 of a £4,000 bill for cavity wall and floor insulation for a semi-detached or end-terrace house, while the government would pay the rest of the bill costing £2,680.
But households on low incomes can receive vouchers covering 100% of the cost of the improvements, up to a maximum of £10,000.
How do I qualify?
Any owner occupiers or social or private landlords in England can apply.
New-build properties that have not been occupied before are not eligible.
People who qualify for the low-income scheme (who get the bigger grant of upto £10,000) must receive at least one of the following benefits:
- Income based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Income based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income Support (IS)
- Pension Guarantee Credit
- Working Tax Credit (WTC)
- Child Tax Credits (CTC)
- Universal Credit (UC)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Attendance Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Contribution based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Contribution based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
- Housing benefit
Landlords can’t apply for the low-income part of the scheme.
What work is covered through the Green Homes Grant?
THE work that can be covered through the Green Homes Grant is split into “primary
To qualify for the scheme, you must be installing at least one of the following “primary” insulation or low carbon measures.
- Solid wall
- Cavity wall
- Flat roof
- Room in roof
- Insulating a park home
Low carbon heat:
- Air or ground source heat pump
- Solar thermal (solar panels which can be used for heating water)
- Biomass boilers
If you use the voucher for any of the above, you can also use it to cover the following “secondary” tasks:
- Draught proofing
- Double or triple glazing when replacing single glazing
- Secondary glazing when in addition to single glazing
- External energy efficient doors when replacing single glazed or solid doors installed before 2002
- Heating controls
- Hot water tank thermostats and insulation
The voucher does not cover the cost of:
- A new extension or conversion
- Insulating a conservatory which has no fixed heating
- installing a new fossil fuel boiler such as gas, oil or LPG
How does the Green Homes Grant scheme work?
Homeowners and landlords must first check they are eligible using the government website.
You then need to check what work you could get done.
Then find a certified tradesperson and get a quote before you apply for the voucher.
You can check which work you can get done by going to the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website and get advice about which energy saving measure would suit your home best.
Based on information you provide about your home you’ll be shown different options. These will include the cost of the work and the value of the savings it will provide each year.
You will be sent a list of tradespeople who are registered with TrustMark or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) (schemes which list construction workers approved by the government) in your local area to carry out the work.
Tradespeople have to register for TrustMark or MCS accreditation themselves to take part in the scheme and benefit from the work.
You should get at least three different quotes for the work so you know you’re getting the best value for money.
You should only agree for the work to go ahead once your application for the voucher has been accepted.
Be wary if you’ve been called saying you’re eligible for a Green Homes Grant as fraud prevention scheme Cifas says it’s received reports of scammers trying to con people out of money by pretending to be part of the scheme.
Who can apply for one?
Homeowners and landlords, either social or private, in England can apply.
When you log on to the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website to get advice, that’s also where you apply for a grant.
You can start planning for the work you want to fund with the scheme’s vouchers now. The government will announce further details of how to apply before the end of September.
The government said more than 600,000 homes will benefit from the scheme and it will support 100,000 jobs in green construction.
However, the slow pace of the rollout means that a fraction of these households have been awarded a grant and far fewer jobs have been supported.
This is despite a poll suggesting that half of homeowners in the UK want a green home grant.
Martin Lewis said: “I have said before that the green home voucher scheme is badly designed and over complex.
“Most of the £2billion promised has not been used – and the money is not set to roll over.
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“But now there are rumours that the £5,000 free home improvement vouchers are about to be pulled completely.
“So if you think you could get support, apply now.”
It came after a similar plea from Martin the week before about the Green Homes Grant scheme.