Botched green homes scheme was rushed, minister admits

A government minister has admitted that the introduction of the governments’ botched Green Homes Grant (GHG) household energy efficiency scheme was rushed.

During a debate in the House of Lords earlier this week on the GHG, which was cancelled in April last year after delivering only a fraction of the intended home upgrades, Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist said no-one could disagree that “a number” of lessons had been learnt from the scheme’s failure.

Just 47,000 upgrades were installed through the scheme, less than a tenth of the 600,000 target originally set when the scheme was launched in the autumn of 2020 as part of the government’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic.

These lessons from the scheme’s failure included timing, Baroness Bloomfield said: “The 12-week timescale was insufficient to produce a meaningful scheme, and we did not do enough consultation before introducing such a complex scheme.”

The government had also learned that the number of registered installers was “limited”, she said: “There simply were not enough qualified technicians to install under the necessary upgrade schemes.”

The baroness added that the recently announced Boiler Upgrade Scheme has been “specifically” designed to enable installers to invest in their workforce and so increase the market’s capacity for delivering decarbonised heating measures.

She added that polling company IPSOS has been commissioned to undertake an independent evaluation of the GHG, which is due to be published in the autumn 2023.

Former energy minister Lord Duncan described as “extraordinarily low” an estimate that only one in six prospective GHG customers had  managed to secure tradesmen qualified to install under the scheme.

Meanwhile, business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed that the Energy Security Bill, which was announced in last month’s Queen’s Speech, will “redefine” Ofgem’s remit to make it easier to bring forward upfront investment in grid infrastructure.

The government had previously said in its energy security strategy, published in April, that it will remove barriers in the way of such anticipatory investment. Kwarteng made his comment during this week’s business, energy and industrial strategy question time in the House of Commons.