“A slam dunk fail” – Public Accounts Committee publishes Green Homes Grant scheme report

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The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme “underperformed badly”, upgrading only about 47,500 homes out of the 600,000 originally envisaged and delivering a small fraction of the expected jobs, according to a new report by the Public Accounts Committee.

According to the committee, the scheme accounted for just £314 million of its original £1.5 billion budget, and £50 million of that was administration costs – more than £1,000 per home upgraded.

The committee is also “not convinced that BEIS has fully acknowledged the scale of its failures with this scheme”. The scheme’s failure “continues government’s troubled record of energy efficiency initiatives and risks damaging the Department’s future efforts to harness both consumer and industry action to deliver Government’s net zero commitments”.

The Scheme was implemented as an urgent response to the COVID-19 crisis, aiming to support jobs at a time of significant risk for the economy while also reducing carbon emissions from homes – but the 12-week timescale to implement it was ‘unrealistic’ and BEIS is reported to have proceeded with it despite its own Projects and Investment Committee rejecting its business case.

The result was “a scheme with poor design and troubled implementation”.

Dame Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, commented: “It cost the taxpayer £50 million just to administer the pointlessly rushed through Green Homes Grant scheme, which delivered a small fraction of its objectives, either in environmental benefits or the promised new jobs.

“We heard it can take 48 months – 4 years – to train the specialists required to implement key parts of a scheme that was dreamed up to be rolled out in 12 weeks. It was never going to work at this time, in this way, and that should have been blindingly obvious to the Department. That it was not is a serious worry. I am afraid there is no escaping the conclusion that this scheme was a slam dunk fail.

“We will need this massive, step change in the way our homes and public buildings are heated, but the way this was devised and run was just a terrible waste of money and opportunity at a time when we can least afford it.”

According to the committee, 52% of homeowners’ voucher applications were rejected or withdrawn, and 46% of installer applications failed by August 2021. The Scheme’s primary aim was to support jobs but its design and duration ‘limited its impact on employment’, and its abrupt closure may have in fact ‘led to redundancies.’

The Government has two months to respond to the committee’s report.

The ‘Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme’-report is available on the UK Parliament website.