Coronavirus Travel Rights
27 November 2020
Homeowners in England can get up to £5,000 in vouchers to make their homes more energy efficient under the Government's Green Homes Grant scheme. This can help pay for insulation, double glazing and more. When it first launched in September, there was a tight six-month deadline to get any work done, but it has recently been extended until 31 March 2022. We've full details below.
Switch energy to save £100+/year. The Green Homes Grant can help improve your home's energy efficiency, and help you save on your heating bill, but the best way to cut costs is to switch energy supplier via our Cheap Energy Club. You can also see what other grants are available in our Housing & Energy Grants guide.
The Green Homes Grant gives homeowners in England vouchers to help cover the cost of energy efficiency improvements to their home – such as low-carbon heating systems, insulation or double glazing to replace single glazing.
As an example, if you install cavity wall and floor insulation costing £4,000, you'd only pay about £1,320, with the Government contributing the remaining £2,680.
However, if you're on a low income or certain benefits, you can get vouchers of up to £10,000 to cover the entire cost of installing the measures.
Important: You can't just pick and choose which improvements you want, there are restrictions. See the list of primary improvements you need to go for before you can get funding for anything else below.
The boosted £10,000 vouchers, where households won't need to pay anything towards improvement costs, are for those receiving at least one income-based or disability benefit. Only owner-occupied homes or park homes will be eligible (meaning landlords won't be able to get them).
The qualifying benefits are:
Chancellor Rishi Sunak first announced the Green Homes Grant in July, with about £2 billion set aside to upgrade the energy efficiency of homes in England, support low-carbon heating technology and help reduce the number of people who cannot afford to heat their homes.
It's also hoped that the scheme will help boost the economy during the coronavirus pandemic by creating jobs.
The Treasury has said it hopes the scheme will help pay for improvements in over 600,000 homes across England.
Green improvements such as insulation and low-carbon heating systems can help cut your energy bills – the Government says families could be able to save as much as £600/yr.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, the improvements on offer can save someone in an average semi-detached house anywhere between £4/yr and £690/yr, depending on the type of improvement.
When it first launched, the scheme set a tight deadline of 31 March 2021 to apply for the grant, get all the work completed and redeem your voucher.
But on Wednesday 18 November, the Government announced this deadline will be extended until 31 March 2022.
However, while you no longer need to rush to get involved, do factor in the time it takes to get quotes, apply to the scheme and get the work completed.
We don't know how long that will take, but with other similar schemes in the past – such as solar panels – it has taken a long time to get through the application process and get the work done. And we've heard reports that people are finding installers in their area are booked up for months ahead, so don't hang about if it's something you want.
Also, there is £2 billion in funding available in total, and while this sounds like a lot, it could go quick if the scheme proves popular.
We've more info below on how to check your eligibility and how to apply.
While the deadline has been extended, it's still important to get a move on if you want to get involved with the scheme. But many have found that it's not easy.
In mid-October, Martin asked his one million Twitter followers if they had applied for, or were considering applying for, a green homes grant. The figures suggest that about 84% of those who had either applied or tried to had been unable to find a suitable installer.
Another big complaint we heard from people was the Government's 'find me an installer' tool was showing their nearest installer was 100s of miles away. Since then, the Government has made a few updates to the scheme and the tool:
So if you've looked previously and found no Green Homes Grant installers near you, try the tool again.
The Green Homes Grant scheme is one every English homeowner should check out. It may provide serious free cash that should both improve the energy efficiency of your home and your home's value. However, that's far from saying everyone can benefit, and the scheme isn't flawless.
From the start there were three major issues I keep hearing about. The most obvious, and in some ways least worrying, is that many people want 'secondary improvements' without getting 'primary ones'. Well, while that may not feel fair, it's not a flaw, it's a deliberate design. Grants are primarily targeted at encouraging people to improve insulation and low-carbon heating measures, so you have to get one of those or you can't do owt else.
Having said that, while it is a deliberate design, it's a clumsy and overcomplex one. And when creating a scheme like this, overcomplexity is an issue. I've been pushing for a simplification, and I'm hopeful that may happen (so ensure you get the MSE weekly email where I'll update you if it does).
The other two issues are closely related and more concerning.
1) A decent number are struggling to find approved local installers. One person in the south-east of England emailed my TV show to say their nearest installer shown on the Government system was 250 miles away in Blackpool, a nightmare scenario. Though I've since learned that if the site shows your nearest installer is 250 miles away, that's likely the head office of an installer near you (so bad communication rather than bad information).
2) Some of those who do find an installer are then being told they won't be able to complete the work within the original deadline, rendering the scheme useless.
These are both symptoms of the fact there aren't enough registered installers on stream at launch. According to the Government, 900 firms are signed up to the scheme, many with national reach. They tell me that they are constantly working to add more. And that makes sense – ultimately the primary stated purpose of offering the Green Homes Grant was to create jobs.
Many may think: 'No problem, I'll just wait until more installers are on board, it'll be fine'. Except there is only £2 billion of funding available, and while that sounds a lot, it could go very quickly – so there is an urgency to doing this, but not enough installers. It's a vicious circle.
Yet it's still effectively a postcode lottery for now. And the original March 2021 deadline (not for applying, for getting all the work done – a very small window) was clearly not enough. It's why I wrote here and had been pushing the Government to 'extend the six-month time period, so that you have six months to apply and a further six months to get the work done'. Which I'm pleased to say has now been done, with the deadline extended until 2022 – taking the panic away.
Let's hope it listens on simplifying things and getting more quality installers on board too.
- Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com
You can get the vouchers if you own your home – including those on long leaseholds and shared ownership.
However, it's likely leaseholders and those with a share-of-freehold type lease will need to get permission from any other freeholders before making changes that affect the building.
If you're a flat owner, the Government has confirmed you can use its eligibility tool in the same way as other property owners.
Landlords of private rented and social domestic housing are free to use the scheme.
So if you rent, you won't be able to access the scheme, though you can talk to your landlord to see if they'll make improvements to your home.
If you're moving into a new build that hasn't previously been lived in yet, you won't be eligible for the scheme.
Also, all non-domestic properties – for example, commercial premises – DON'T qualify for the green home vouchers.
While the scheme covers a range of home improvements, it's not as simple as picking any you're interested in and applying for a voucher for that.
To qualify for any financial support, you'll need to install what the Government calls "primary" improvements. These are:
Then if, and only if, you're installing at least one of the primary improvements above, you'll also be able to use the vouchers to install "secondary" measures.
Crucially, you can only receive funding for secondary improvements up to the amount of funding you get for the primary measures. So for example, if you've received £1,000 towards cavity wall insulation, you can only receive a maximum of £1,000 towards any secondary measures.
This is still up to a maximum of £5,000 per household for most, across primary and secondary measures – so if you receive more than £2,500 in funding for your primary improvement, less funding will be available for your secondary measures.
Secondary improvements include:
See the full list of what's available on the Government's website.
While there's no technical requirement that the primary measures need to be fully installed before the work can begin on the secondary ones, you won't be able to get the funding for any secondary measures before the primary work is completed.
If the primary work doesn't go ahead or is delayed beyond the deadline, there is a risk that you'll miss out on funding for any secondary measures you've already had installed, so you would be liable for the full cost yourself.
If you already have any of these installed in your home, you can't use them to replace the measures you already have in your home. However, you can use them to install "top-ups", for example, additional loft insulation so it reaches the recommended level.
The Government has said that if you're installing low-carbon heating, you'll also need to have adequate insulation in your home, though this can be installed at the same time as the heating.
The Government has also confirmed that you can use the voucher to cover certain connected costs to installing these improvements, such as exploratory surveys to check, for example, the suitability of your walls for insulation, or expenses such as labour costs, waste removal or scaffolding.
It also lists the excluded costs, such as furniture removal or storage to allow the work to take place, or asbestos removal.
You can download the full list (it's a PDF) of what is and isn't covered.
There are no rules stopping firms charging for quotes for any of the improvements, so if a particular firm does try to charge, you can always try to find another firm that won't. Remember that while it's recommended to get three quotes, you only actually need one quote for each piece of work to apply.
You usually will have to pay for building surveys, though you can use the vouchers to cover the cost of these, providing you go ahead and install one of the measures eligible under the scheme.
While you have to apply for the primary measures first, and it's advised to apply for both at the same time, you can always go back and apply for the secondary measures separately at a later date.
When you apply for the primary measure, you'll be allocated a reference number that you'll need when applying for the secondary measure later.
You're free to use more than one installer if you're having multiple improvements installed. You'll only need to complete a single application form, but you will need to provide separate quotes for each measure.
You'll also be issued separate vouchers for each improvement.
The Government says that installers can still ask for a deposit under the scheme, though it shouldn't be larger than what they'd usually charge. It also can't be larger than your expected contribution to the cost of the measure under the quote they've given you.
If you're applying for the boosted £10,000 funding, you cannot be asked for a deposit unless the cost of the improvements is more than £10,000.
Some measures, such as external wall insulation, may need planning permission before they can go ahead, so it's best to find out what your council's rules are early on.
We don't yet know what pricing will be like under this scheme, but in similar green improvement schemes in the past we've seen people being charged much more than they would have if they'd installed these measures off their own backs.
The cost of installing these improvements under the scheme isn't regulated in any way, so it's always worth getting a quote outside of the scheme to see how it compares.
The Government has said it will be scrutinising applications, including the prices people are quoted to try to prevent overcharging. But it's important to always get at least three quotes before going ahead with any work under the scheme, to make sure you're not being ripped off.
Watch out for cold callers trying to get you to sign up to work under the Green Homes Grant scheme – we've already seen a few reports of this. Always make sure you go through the Government's official site, and make sure your installers are certified with TrustMark and the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.
While this new grant only covers homes in England, if you live elsewhere in the UK there are other schemes that offer financial support towards making your home more energy efficient.
There's full info in the links below, but here's a quick rundown:
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