CTSI Lead Officer for Energy and Climate Change, Steve Playle, has raised concerns that the Government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme (GHGS) may be subject to opportunists and fraud due to its short deadline.
The current scheme, launched in September, invites homeowners or residential landlords to apply for a voucher worth up to £5,000 towards the cost of installing energy-efficient improvements. If a householder receives benefits, they may be eligible to receive funding for 100% of expenses up to a maximum of £10,000. The deadline for all work undertaken in the scheme is March 31, 2021.
According to Playle, the scheme may invite abuse: “The GHGS is a welcome boost for householders looking to make their home more energy-efficient. I am reassured that only TrustMark registered businesses, or those who are Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited will be allowed to undertake the funded work. It is also good news that measures are in place for an independent auditor to check up to 10% of all work undertaken through the scheme, but the devil will be in the detail.
“I am, however, concerned about the very short deadline for work to be completed as it may lead to opportunists taking advantage and standards slipping in a rush to claim the funding pot. Also, not all businesses in the energy efficiency sector are TrustMark, or MCS registered, and this may lead to a postcode lottery where those living in more remote areas might not even be able to get quotations for work, let alone have their work completed in time.
“The squeeze on timescales may also lead to demand far outstripping supply, with the net effect being the inflation of market prices well above the norm, which is no good for consumers.”
Playle added: “The public should also look out for cold callers on the doorstep or on the phone who might claim to offer to undertake paperwork on their behalf for a fee as part of a ‘fast track’ to getting the funding. The advice is very clear. Never deal with cold callers and if you want to have work carried out, find a trader through either the TrustMark or MCS websites.
“I’m aware of 70 or so new companies registered at Companies House since June using some or all the words ‘Green Homes Grant’ in their names. This is a sign that some companies may be jumping on the bandwagon without any experience in the industry. I understand that trading standards departments are contacting these companies to check on them.
“We should be talking about a deadline set over a few years, not a few months. An extended deadline would give TrustMark the breathing space to oversee the registration of new businesses in an orderly manner, and minimise the potential for opportunists to take advantage of the scheme.”
Adrian Simpson, CTSI Lead Officer for Renewable Energy, echoed many of the concerns:
“According to some members of CTSI’s Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS), demand is outstripping supply, and accredited members have voiced scepticism that any Green Homes Grant installation will be fulfilled by March. We understand that there is limited stock availability due to the effects of COVID-19.
“I support the recommendation that the scheme is extended beyond March 2021. There is no rush. Consumers deserve a scheme which adequately protects their interests and makes sure that the job is done right by fully accredited installers.”