Delaying green homes grant is ‘reckless’
THE Chancellor’s £2bn green home voucher scheme has backfired after firms blasted its “reckless” September start date for causing customers to cancel installations and hold off purchases.
Window firms and trade suppliers warned of suffering a collapse in business that has forced many to refurlough staff after the scheme incentivised customers to wait until September.
“Our appointments diary collapsed by 70pc with people preferring not to have an appointment but to wait until September,” said Allan Forbes, boss of Brackenwood Windows, a double glazing company with sales of £10m.
The Government had been “reckless”, he said. “We have got no sales coming in. We are going to have to refurlough staff, it’s like Covid-19 all over again.”
Roy Frost, managing director of GJB, a trade supplier with £30m turnover, said there had been “unprecedented numbers of delays and cancelled installations that have had an immediate impact”.
The Glass and Glazing Federation said many of its members were refu-loughing staff and have seen a 40pc drop-off in daily orders. Industry bosses have been warned by the business department that it is “highly unlikely” that the scheme to make homes more energy efficient will be brought forward to mitigate the sudden dropoff in sales and installation.
However, sources said officials could announce that the grant will be restricted to replacing single rather than double glazing, slashing the proportion of windows eligible and unlocking demand.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £3bn green investment package at his mini-Budget earlier this month, claiming it would support 140,000 jobs, with £2bn set aside for grants to help with green home improvements, such as insulation and double glazing.
Homeowners can obtain a £5,000 grant, while low income households can get up to £10,000. However, the details of the scheme are still being ironed out, meaning many customers have held off purchases on products that may not be eligible when the grants are launched.
Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said the voucher scheme is a “brilliant policy” but urged officials to backdate the grants.
“This will unlock the benefits of this policy right now rather than acting as a temporary disincentive until September,” he said. “Inadvertently, their booked work for July and August is being cancelled as homeowners await the vouchers to launch in September.”
Jon Vanstone, chair of Certass Trade Association, said there had been “unintended consequences” from the scheme’s announcement. “We are too thin on the finances to have a couple of slower months while people wait for a grant scheme because we have just had three slow months.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was contacted for comment.