Vouchers worth up to £5,000 will be issued to homeowners in England to make their homes more energy-efficient under a new Government scheme that launches in September 2020. We don’t yet have full details about how the new scheme will work though – see what we know so far below.
As part of the Green Homes Grant scheme, eligible homeowners will be able to use the vouchers to help pay for environmentally friendly improvements such as installing loft, floor and wall insulation, or new double-glazing windows and doors.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined the plans, which will see the Government put aside £2 billion for green home upgrades, as part of his economic statement.
How will the Green Homes Grant work?
The idea is that the Government will give homeowners in England vouchers towards the cost of energy-efficient improvements, which should cover much – and in some cases all – of the cost. You’ll have to apply for a voucher once the scheme is up and running in September. You’ll then be able to spend it to improve your home.
The aim of the scheme is to help homeowners and promote energy efficiency, but also to help boost the economy during the coronavirus pandemic by creating jobs.
The Green Homes Grant applies to England only – so unfortunately won’t cover homes in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
What will the vouchers cover?
The Treasury says the vouchers can pay for “green improvements such as loft, wall and floor insulation”, while Business Secretary Alok Sharma has indicated that double-glazing windows will also be included.
The Government hasn’t yet given a complete list, so other improvements may also be covered – through MSE founder Martin Lewis has had a tip-off that it’s unlikely new boilers will be included. We’ll update this story when we have full info.
How much will the vouchers be worth?
For most homeowners, the vouchers will be worth about two-thirds of the cost of the energy-efficient improvements, up to a maximum of £5,000 per household. For example, the Treasury says a homeowner installing cavity wall and floor insulation costing £4,000 would only pay about £1,320, with the Government contributing the remaining £2,680 through the voucher scheme.
But those on low incomes will be able to get more – in that case, the Government will cover the full cost of the energy-efficient improvements, so you won’t have to pay anything, and the vouchers could be worth up to £10,000 per household.
Of course, green improvements such as insulation can also help cut your energy bills, with the Government saying families could be able to save hundreds of pounds a year as a result.
Will anyone be able to get these vouchers?
That was the impression given by the Chancellor in his speech, but details are still scant. Here’s Martin’s view: “I’ve been told there won’t be any qualifying income on getting the main vouchers, so every homeowner and landlord is likely to be eligible. However, whether every home will qualify is still up in the air.
“With the Green Deal (a similar type of scheme a few years ago from the Coalition Government) you had to have a pre-qualifying inspection – and the inspectors decided what your home was suitable for. My totally unsubstantiated guess is that it is likely there will be some form of pre-qualification assessment here. It may also be that they dictate what your home needs. For example, for those wanting double-glazing, you may be told that it needs to be part of a package with floor insulation.”
The Treasury has said it hopes the scheme will help pay for improvements in over 600,000 homes across England – so the vouchers should be fairly widely available.
The boosted £10,000 vouchers, where households won’t need to pay anything towards improvement costs, will be for those on the lowest incomes – but again, we don’t know what the threshold or exact eligibility criteria are at the moment. We’ll update this story with more details when we have them.
How can I apply for a voucher?
The scheme is set to be launched at some point in September 2020, and homeowners will be able to apply online at this point.
Homeowners will be shown energy efficiency measures in which the vouchers can be used for and recommended accredited suppliers. Once a supplier has provided a quote and the work has been approved, a voucher will be issued. The Government hasn’t said how long it could take for an application to be approved and a voucher issued, however.
We’ll update you with more details of the application process once they’re available.
Will any firm be able to do this – or is it just specific installers?
The Government has said households will be able to spend the vouchers with “local accredited suppliers”, but hasn’t yet given details on which firms could be part of the scheme or what the criteria would be.
However, Martin says: “With the predecessor to this scheme, the Green Deal (a rather convoluted scheme that involved getting a loan if you wanted the state subsidy), there was a specific list of qualifying installers. My guess is there will be something similar here.
“The nature of that meant that negotiating with suppliers was more difficult and in some cases, prices were inflated. Even so, with two-thirds paid by the Government, this should work out substantially cheaper.”
I was planning to order insulation or double-glazing now – should I wait?
Martin says: “It’s worth being aware, as explained above, that there may be an assessment needed to get these vouchers – and not everyone may be able to get what they want. We’re expecting more details on the scheme in due course so it’s probably a sensible idea to hold off making a decision until then when we know more. But it is always worth to do your own research and be prepared with the quotes from your local suppliers to be the first in the queue once it starts.
“Be aware that this is likely to be a nightmare for the installers and sellers of these products. We’ve just come out of lockdown, they’re trying to kick-start their businesses, and the Chancellor has pre-announced an uncertain scheme that will likely stall people ordering. So please do what you can to behave ethically, if they’ve helped you, try to reward their service, when and where you can.”