Lack of Trustmark contractors hampering Green Homes Grant scheme

The Green Homes Grant scheme gives homeowners a £5,000 grant to fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvement works that aid energy efficiency, such as insulation, double glazing or heat pumps. It opened on 30th September 2020 for an initial six months but has since been extended to March 2022.

However, grants are only available if the installer is accredited to the voluntary Trustmark scheme. That is the government’s attempt to prevent rogue traders from benefiting.

The House of Commons environmental audit committee, an all-party committee of backbench MPs, carried out a survey to see how the scheme was going. Not so well, it found.

In a survey, 75% had found it difficult to find a TrustMark registered contractor to carry out the works, with responses describing how contractors were either unaware of the scheme or were not prepared to sign up to it.

While those contractors who are TrustMark accredited for installations under the scheme have been inundated with requests, the committee found, demonstrating a capacity problem.

In total, 510 people responded to the survey; 86% had had a poor experience with the process. After checking eligibility and applying for the grant, many people experienced delays in receiving responses to their applications, leading to some quotes expiring.

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At the time of the survey being conducted between 2nd and 16th November, six to eight weeks after the scheme was launched, only 5.6% of respondents had received a voucher for energy efficiency measures to be installed.

Many found that they were unable to install the measures they required, with confusion over primary and secondary measures (with the eligibility for the latter requiring the former to have been installed).

The Committee heard during evidence by the UK Green Building Council that there was a problem with sequencing since draught-proofing and heating controls are defined as secondary measures, which it would be wise to install prior to putting in a heat pump. 

Committee chairman Philip Dunne MP said: “The government’s initiative for the Green Homes Grant should be commended. However, if we are to succeed in carrying out the amount of energy efficiency upgrades in homes that are needed, it is already clear that the scheme is not going to achieve its initial targets.

“Homes emit an astonishing 20% of the UK’s CO2, and we cannot come close to reaching net-zero without seriously addressing energy efficiency concerns in our existing building stock.

“Now the scheme has been extended, which is very welcome, I hope the government learns from this initial feedback gleaned by my committee. It must make swift improvements to reviewing applications promptly; ensuring there are enough TrustMark accredited contractors; and to clear up the confusion between primary and secondary measures.”

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