Homeowners to receive vouchers of up to £5,000 for home insulation
Under chancellor Rishi Sunak’s economic recovery plan to be unveiled on Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of homeowners will be provided vouchers of up to £5,000 to pay for energy-saving home improvements such as better insulation.
The vouchers are part of a £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme in England which form part of a broader, £3 billion investment plan to crack down on carbon emissions and help the UK get on track to reach its climate change goals.
According to Sunak, the scheme will also help to “kick-start” the economy following the Covid-19 pandemic and will branch out to providing new insulation in public builds such as schools and hospitals. Low-carbon heating systems will also be provided in social housing settlements.
The Green Homes Grant will see the government provide a minimum of two-thirds of the cost of energy-saving home improvements through the vouchers.
The Treasury has said that the grant scheme could support over 100,000 new jobs and provide more work for skilled employees.
Sunak said: “As Britain recovers from the [Covid-19] outbreak, it's vital we do everything in our power to support and protect livelihoods across the nation.”
The grant scheme is set to begin in September. There will be online applications that homeowners must fill out for the work to be undertaken, and details of accredited suppliers from the relevant local area will be provided. The supplier will then provide a quote, and once the work has been approved, the government will provide the voucher at a value of two-thirds of the total cost up to £5,000.
Business secretary Alok Sharma said that poorer households could be provided up to £10,000 by the government to help make the scheme more accessible, with around half the fund to be allocated to poorer homeowners who will not be expected to contribute toward the cost.
Speaking to the BBC, Sharma said: "What [the scheme] ultimately means is lower bills for households, hundreds of pounds off energy bills every year, it's supporting jobs and is very good news for the environment."
The Treasury believes that better quality insulation could save some households as much as £600 in energy bills.
However, Labour has called for a broader plan to reduce emissions, warning that renters are being left out of the reckoning.
Sharma’s counterpart, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband, was warm to the plans but warned that they needed to be more “comprehensive” by including those who “rent the 8.5 million homes in the social rented sector and private rented sector, which has the worst energy efficiency standards”.
Miliband added: “That means one-third of people are being left out [of the scheme]”.
Miliband also called for the government to branch out its green plans to include investment in conservation, renewable energy sources, greener transport, and helping the manufacturing industry transition toward carbon neutral.