West Northamptonshire families 'abandoned' as government's flagship home insulation scheme helps fewer than 300

Lib Dems 'shocked' by low number of green home grants handed out with no replacement announced

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 10:19 am

Fewer than 300 West Northamptonshire families were given a grant by the government to improve their homes' insulation as part of a scrapped national scheme.

That is according to figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats on the £1.5 billion green homes grant programme which was abolished after six months of issues.

Lib Dem councillor for Brixworth, Jonathan Harris, said: “It is shocking that so few homes in West Northamptonshire have been helped to insulate their homes through the green homes grant scheme.

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Liberal Democrat councillor for Brixworth, Jonathan Harris NNL-210911-144734001

“This initiative was launched to much fanfare and was meant to help thousands of people make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.

"Instead, families are being abandoned ahead of the cold winter months at a time energy bills are soaring."

The green homes grant scheme was launched in September 2020 promising to upgrade 600,000 homes nationally to net-zero standards in a bid to cut energy bills

Vouchers of up to £10,000 were offered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to make properties more energy efficient or replace old boilers with heat pumps.

However, the programme was scrapped in March due to low take-up with people having issues finding accredited contractors and 'disastrous' management, according to a committee of MPs.

The latest figures reveal that across the country only 39,474 homes have been helped under the scheme, including 22,000 low-income households - with 293 in West Northamptonshire.

Applications made before March are still being processed, but most have now been finalised and no direct replacement was announced in the government's Budget.

The chancellor did reveal plans to subsidise low-carbon heat pumps in place of gas boilers for homeowners in England and Wales from next April.

While mortgages linked to green home improvements with targets for lenders are also being explored by the government.

The Lib Dems want the government to provide an emergency programme to insulate people’s homes, reduce energy bills and cut the UK’s carbon emissions with COP26 highlighting the need to tackle the climate crisis.

Meanwhile families are being made worse off by rising fuel prices and inflation as well as the end of the £20 universal credit uplift and furlough.

Councillor Harris said: “The government must show the UK is a global leader in tackling climate change by launching an emergency programme to insulate our homes, reduce emissions and slash heating bills.

“We need to end fuel poverty and make sure that families in West Northamptonshire aren’t forced to choose between heating and eating.”

A BEIS spokesperson said the scheme was designed as a short-term economic stimulus, it helped raise awareness of green home measures and it improved demand for a range of clean heat and energy saving installations.

“The green homes grant was a temporary scheme available to all homeowners in England who chose to apply," they added.

"While that particular scheme has now closed, we are investing almost £6.6 billion to support people to install energy efficiency measures across the country, including in West Northamptonshire, which will reduce their energy bills.”