Concern grows over homeowners’ rights and work standards under Green Homes Grant

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Homeowners must receive high quality improvements under the government’s new energy efficiency scheme, campaigners and MPs have urged.

The Green Homes grant will fund improvements such as home insulation and new boilers, with homeowners applying for a voucher of between £5,000 and £10,000 to help with the cost of the work.

Darren Jones MP, Chair of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, has written to Minister Kwasi Kwarteng to voice his concerns over consumers left behind after previously failed energy efficiency programmes and calls after a set of standards to be implemented.

Mr Jones wrote: “I welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement to fund Energy Efficiency vouchers, which my Committee recognises as an important net zero priority transition for the country.

“We do, however, have some concerns in respect of the delivery of previous energy efficiency programmes which resulted in a number of consumers across the country being left with homes that suffered from inadequate work from suppliers who failed to meet the required standards.

“Many of these consumers are still unable to get the redress they deserve.

“Whilst we recognise the importance of starting this programme as quickly as possible, in order to get the most benefit out of it as a vital fiscal stimulus, we do expect the Government to ensure that adequate consumer protections are built from the start.

“As you will know, it will take many years to completely retro-fit all of our buildings in the United Kingdom and so this issue has longer term complications.”

According to the BBC, more than 13 million homes in the UK have had cavity wall insulation but industry insiders have told the broadcaster that insulation will have failed in at least 800,000 homes.

In his letter, Mr Jones asks Minister Kwarteng multiple questions regarding consumer protection, asking for a response by 4 August.

“It’s vital that these consumer redress and standards requirements are built in from the very start of this programme.

“I understand that your department may wish to give this responsibility to existing institutions on an interim basis, whilst the longer-term funding and mechanisms are considered.

“However, I’m sure you will agree that it would be completely unacceptable to start this programme without building in the systems required to give consumers the confidence to take part in this important initiative.”

Others to have voiced their concerns over the upcoming scheme has included campaigner Pauline Saunders from the Cavity Insulation Victims’ Alliance, CIVALLI, and Dr Chris Roberts, assistant lecturer at Birmingham City University’s School of the Built Environment.

Dr Roberts told Wired that the scheme had been created ‘jobs in mind rather than environmental concerns or addressing fuel poverty’, explaining: “There’s the question of funding being allocated for insulation as opposed to tackling the use of gas boilers.

“They arguably present a far more pressing environmental concern.

“Also, much like the installation of double glazing on older housing stock, retrospective insulation can have a negative impact on a building in terms of water ingress [damp] and cold bridging [condensation].

“Are homeowners going to be financially assisted to remedy any effects of modifications should they arise, particularly those considered the poorest households?””

The Green Homes Grant will be launched in England in September.

Mr Jones’s letter can be read in full from the tweet above.