Coronavirus Universal Credit & Benefits
14 May 2021
Green Homes Grant
The Green Homes Grant scheme is now closed to new applicants. It offers homeowners in England up to £5,000 in vouchers to make their homes more energy efficient. If you applied before the deadline at 5pm on 31 March, you should still be able to get the measures installed if you meet the criteria. If that's you, we've kept the information in this guide for reference.
Update 5pm Wed 31 Mar: In a shock statement on Saturday evening, the Government announced the Green Homes Grant scheme will close to new applications at 5pm on Wednesday 31 March.
That deadline has now passed, so you can no longer apply. However, the Government has said applications made before this deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued can still be used, or extended upon request.
If you managed to apply before the deadline, you've 90 days from getting the voucher to get the work done, but the Government says this can be extended by another 90 days, so it gives more leeway. More info via the link immediately above.
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.
Green Homes Grant vouchers cover two-thirds of the cost of the energy efficient improvements, up to £5,000 per household, so most will still have to pay something towards it.
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, the vouchers can cover the entire cost of installing the measures, up to £10,000 (see the quick questions 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 qualify (meaning landlords won't be able to get them).
The qualifying benefits are:
Chancellor Rishi Sunak first announced the Green Homes Grant in July 2020, with the aim of upgrading the energy efficiency of homes in England, supporting low-carbon heating technology and helping to reduce the number of people who cannot afford to heat their homes.
It is also hoped that the scheme will help boost the economy during the coronavirus pandemic by creating jobs.
When it launched, the Treasury said it hoped the scheme would help pay for improvements in over 600,000 homes across England. However, as of 27 March, only 90,000 applications have been made, and 39,000 vouchers have been issued.
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/year.
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.
The vouchers are available to anyone who owns their home, except new builds that have not been occupied yet. However, leaseholders and those with a share-of-freehold type lease will need to check with any other freeholders before making changes that affect the building.
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:
If you only want to install primary measures, you're free to have these installed on their own – you don't need to get any secondary measures if you don't want to.
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 you can apply for vouchers for primary and secondary improvements at the same time, crucially you have to redeem the voucher for the primary work before the secondary work can begin.
If you get the secondary work done, and then the primary work doesn't go ahead or is delayed beyond the deadline, there is a risk you'll miss out on the funding for those secondary measures – so you'd be liable for the full cost yourself.
No, you can't use the vouchers to replace any energy-saving measures already installed 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 vouchers 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 of what is and isn't covered.
While the scheme has now ended, if you've already applied you can still get funding. However, we've heard many complaints about long delays in receiving their vouchers. If you tried, let us know how you got on in our Green Homes Guide forum thread.
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 know exactly what individuals are being quoted under the Green Homes Grant scheme, but in similar green improvement schemes in the past we've heard of people being charged much more than they would have been 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 if you can 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 get at least three quotes – if there's time – 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 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/or the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.
While the Green Homes 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:
Clever ways to calculate your finances