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The government’s ‘green recovery package’ – what does it contain?

Today, the Chancellor set out £3b of ‘green’ spending. It includes £2b grants to improve the energy efficiency in homes and £1b investment in public buildings.

What is the Green Homes Grant?

Under the Green Homes Grant, the government will pay at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy, up to to a maximum of £5k. For the poorest households it will be more generous; the grant could be as much as £10,000 and cover the cost of the renovations in full.

For example, a homeowner of a semi-detached or end-of-terrace house could install cavity wall and floor insulation for about £4,000 – the homeowner would pay £1,320 while the government would contribute £2,680.

The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers.

Once one of these suppliers has provided a quote and the work is approved, the voucher is issued.  The vouchers will be made available to use on environmentally-friendly additions such as insulation, low-energy lighting, double glazing and energy-efficient doors

What is being invested in public buildings?

 The government is investing £1b in improving insulation in public buildings such as schools and hospitals including funding of £50m to pilot innovative schemes to retrofit social housing at scale, with measures including insulation, double glazing and heat pumps.

Is this enough?

The Conservative manifesto pledged £9.2bn for energy efficiency, including £2.9bn for public buildings and £6.3bn for low income homes and social housing. Ed Matthew, associate director at climate think tank E3G, said: “If this funding is the down payment on their manifesto commitment then it is a welcome start.  If this is the total level of energy efficiency investment they are pledging then it is peanuts – barely enough to get us to the end of this year if we are to get on track to net zero.”

The pressure group Plan B is planning a legal challenge, on the basis that this is insufficient funding to meet the UK’s obligations under the Paris climate agreement and the UK’s own emissions targets.

Rosie Rogers, senior political advisor at Greenpeace UK, said the UK still wasn’t “playing in the same league” as other countries, such as Germany, which is investing €40bn (£36bn) in green jobs and energy efficiency, or France, which pledged €15bn to tackle the climate crisis in June. (The UK Treasury said the figures are not like-for-like.)

What don’t we know yet?

  • Who is eligible? (Are landlords? Can tenants get vouchers?)
  • How do they define lower income households?
  • What work is eligible to be covered? For example, does it include solar PV and heat pumps?
  • Do you need to demonstrate the environmental benefits of the measures?
  • Who accredits the suppliers? Who will be the accredited suppliers local to here?
  • What if you already had work planned between now and September, when the scheme starts?

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