David Cowburn, Chief Operating Officer at NAPIT, shares his views on the Green Home Grant Scheme and the challenge around installer standards.
The Green Homes Grant Scheme (GHGS) is a much welcomed policy initiative which provides support to a sector which is in need of a boost, not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because of the history of stop-start policy support over the recent years. However, the GHGS is only open for 6 months (30th September 2020- 31st March 2021) and this is a concern to many in the industry- especially given the time of year, with shorter days, inclement weather and increasingly common local lockdowns- will the £2bn be spent? These concerns have been voiced many times to BEIS and there is some hope that a successful GHGS phase 1 may lead to future policies of this kind, so as an industry we must grasp the short term opportunity and deliver what is possible in the timescale in order to encourage Government to continue supporting us.
Under the GHGS, able-to-pay homeowners will be able to apply for up to £5,000 towards improvements with the grant covering up to 65% of the total cost. For low-income households, the allocation increases to £10,000, which can cover 100% of the costs. The range of measures eligible for funding includes, solid and cavity wall insulation, loft and flat roof insultation, air and ground source heat pumps, solar thermal, biomass boilers, heating controls hot water tank thermostats and insulation, double/triple glazing or secondary glazing when replacing single glazing and draught proofing.
Like any Government scheme, specific eligibility criteria have been published, and installers must meet these requirements to register to participate. Installers must be certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) for all low carbon heat measures or PAS 2030:2017 or PAS 2030:2019 for all other measures and must be TrustMark registered.
Industry have been engaging with BEIS on the issue of which PAS is needed for installers; PAS 2030:2017 or PAS 2030:2019. To ease the delivery of the GHGS and make it more accessible to installers wishing to participate, BEIS has made some changes to the transition between the 2017 and 2019 versions of PAS 2030 which effectively allows all installers to work to the PAS 2030:2017 standard regardless of which standard they are certified against until 31st March 2021. Existing PAS 2030 installers may be certified to either standard and although new installers must be assessed against the 2019 standard they can have time-limited certification to 2017 for the duration of GHGS. This time limited certification approach had to be approved by BEIS and UKAS and certainly provided industry with a logistical challenge. There are some higher risk properties, such as park homes, protected buildings and high-rise buildings, which require installations under GHGS to be carried out under PAS 2030:2019 to provide extra confidence to both consumers and BEIS that the installations will be compliant.
Although the situation regarding the certification of installers is complex and far from perfect, it does make becoming a registered installer under the GHGS more accessible and still provides high levels of consumer protection and confidence. The biggest difference between PAS 2030:2017 and PAS 2030:2019, is the need for work under the newer edition to be under the control of a Retrofit Co-ordinator – which is a relatively new role with very few currently available. A Retrofit Coordinator is the individual who is responsible for overseeing the assessment of dwellings as well as the subsequent specification, monitoring, and evaluation of energy efficiency measures, in accordance with PAS 2035.
The position we find ourselves in now seems a fair balance in an imperfect world, but at this stage nothing is set in stone. As the formal launch of the scheme approaches details are still being finalised- as always, the devil is in the detail.
I hope when I look back on this grant scheme in April 2021 that its been successful in achieving its goals of:
– Spending the £2bn allocated
– Enabling the installation of energy efficiency and low carbon heating in technologies in over 600,000 homes
– Supporting 100,000 jobs in the construction sector
– Funding the training of thousands of installers wishing to become PAS 2030:2019 or MCS certified
The future is never known, and with the threat of another lockdown on the horizon, fulfilling this scheme’s potential will no doubt be challenging.
To check if you are eligible to apply for the scheme, or for more information regarding what home improvements are covered under the GHGS please visit the GOV.UK website
NAPIT members who are not already registered with TrustMark and wish to be, please contact our Customer Services team on 0345 543 0330 who be able to resolve this for you very quickly if your PAS or MCS certification is already in place.