Industry demands quality assurance focus from £3bn Green Homes Grant
A pressure group representing heating and energy specialists has warned that effective quality control will be essential to the success of a new fund to improve energy efficiency in buildings.
The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) has demanded that quality control and consumer protections be an integral feature of the £3bn Green Homes Grant announced earlier this month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Summer Statement on 8 July committed £2bn to support a voucher scheme for landlords and homeowners that would provide up to £5,000 per household to improve their energy efficiency. An additional £1bn will be also invested over the coming year to fund a grant that will be made available to public sectors bodies, including hospitals and schools, to fund upgrades of their estate looking at both energy efficiency and low carbon heat.
The ADE said that ensuring the quality of all work undertaken through the funding would be a critical factor in successfully improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s existing houses and buildings.
The ADE added, “The Green Homes Grant must be underpinned by a robust quality assurance regime. This will protect consumers’ and public investment; help provide skilled and future-proofed jobs; and ensure that the benefits of comfier and cheaper-to-run homes are realised.”
The organisation also called for close collaboration across the built environment sector to ensure a clear message and guidance was available to successfully meet the key aims of the Green Homes Grant.
The ADE stated, “There will of course be areas which must not be compromised, such as quality assurance and consumer protection. However, just as industry came together to successfully call for this funding, we must again collaborate to ensure its success. “
Matthew Vickers, chief executive of the independent Energy Ombudsman, said the proposed Green Homes Grant had significant potential to help the government meet its 2050 net-zero target if all improvements it will fund could be delivered effectively.
Mr Vickers said, “To ensure the government gets a good return on its investment and people get the warm homes they deserve, it’s vital that consumers have trust and confidence in the scheme.”
“One way of embedding this confidence would be to ensure that anyone using the scheme is protected and has a guaranteed right to free, independent redress if things go wrong.”
ADE deputy director Dr. Joanne Wade described the £3bn funding as a “golden opportunity” to create vital employment opportunities via a push to introduce energy efficient, low carbon improvements to homes.
ADE policy lead James Griffiths added the funding announcement was welcome news to address the issue of energy efficiency in UK buildings that he claimed was “often overlooked” from a policy perspective.
Mr Griffiths added, “With some of the worst performing buildings in Europe and dire forecasts for unemployment, the golden opportunity to deliver both warmer homes and brighter futures was seized.”
He cited the establishment of the Trustmark quality scheme as an example of changes introduced to the retrofit sector in recent years that could prove vital to effective transformation of the existing housing stock.
Mr Griffiths said that the HVAC and construction sectors must now demonstrate the potential for effectively improving the energy efficiency of homes.
He added, “A focus on consumer redress and standards in the retrofit scheme- is also welcomed by the Energy Ombudsman who are the independent body responsible for resolving disputes between consumers and energy suppliers including on some aspects of energy efficiency.”