Since being rolled out to consumers and installers, the Green Homes Grant has been beset by issues. The challenges that demand the most immediate attention are increasing the availability of installers and improving the transparency of the system, ensuring installers get paid on time.
Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS – the national standards organisation for domestic renewables – discusses the current situation in relation to the scheme, how it has been adapted so far and what support both the grant and the wider sector needs in the future:
Currently, installers cannot meet the consumer demand for the scheme; a problem that is being exascerbated by the backlog of work many installers already have due to projects that were postponed due to the first COVID lockdown. .
What’s more, many installers who have completed work under scheme have reported delays in payment, or are still waiting. We are aware of these issues and are advising the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as to how to address this.
The key thing is to ensure that the Green Homes Grant benefits installers as well as consumers. Unfortunately, we know that the reported payment issues payments are acting as a disincentive to business involvement.
This is bad for installers and consumers alike, which is why we moved to help resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
Though the grant has already seen some changes, it is likely it will see more in the near future, that will hopefully streamline the entire process for everyone.
Changes to terms
Initially due to last only six months, the government has extended the grant, meaning that it will be in place until March 2022, something we have welcomed at MCS.
Under current regulations, installers must be Trustmark, PAS or MCS certified to install to carry out work under the grant. However, recent amendments to the terms and conditions now permit certified lead contractors to appoint subcontractors for installations.
The lead contractor will maintain responsibility for any work carried out. But, the changes have raised concerns over the standards of work that subcontractors will be held to in comparison to certified installers.
Again, MCS has worked with BEIS to clarify this position. As such, we can confirm that the recent changes to the terms and conditions now match the subcontracting rules under MCS.
MCS certification is a key requirement for any contractors who are looking to make use of the Green Homes Grant scheme to deliver the specified low carbon technologies for their customers’ homes.
We have put these measures in place to ensure that the industry is protected, and consumers can have confidence in the integrity of the domestic renewables MCS certified installers provide.
The Green Homes Grant will need to undergo futher improvements if it is to meet the consumer demand that there can be no doubt it has stimulated. These changes will also need to reverse the trend we are now seeing, with installers deciding not to engage with the scheme, until they are made.
Securing the future
The government recently published its response to the Future Homes Standard (FHS) consultation which sets out key goals for the future decarbonisation of domestic dwellings.
The FHS states that any new-build homes must be “highly energy-efficient” by embracing low carbon heating and that they must be “zero-carbon ready”, with properties expected to produce 75-80% less emissions than current levels by 2025 and by 31% in 2021.
Furthermore, the government has outlined its 10-point plan for the a “green industrial revolution”, setting a goal to install 600,000 heat pumps per year from 2028.
We know there is consumer appetite for heat pumps; in fact, two-thirds of Green Homes Grant enquiries to our installers have been related to heat pumps.
It remains the role of MCS to protect standards as the government looks to increase uptake. Therefore, MCS has recently partnered with GTEC on the Renewable Heat Installer Training & Support Scheme (RHITSS) to train more installers to meet this demand, while championing quality.
RHITSS is designed to provide financial incentives – up to 70% of the cost of training – making it easier to become an MCS certified installer, thus protecting standards overall.
We believe investment in training is crucial if we are to upskill the 20,000 – 30,000 heat pump installers we forecast will be needed to achieve the government’s goals of carbon neutrality by 2050.