A program in the United Kingdom to deliver £125 million worth of cash back to households who make energy saving renovations and home improvements has received a cautious welcome, but the nation’s green building and construction industry has warned that cash alone will not be sufficient and that longer-term measures must be put in place to ensure the success of the scheme.
Announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change last week, a new Green Deal cash back scheme will provide up to £1,000 cash back for homeowners in England and Wales who make improvements such as installing loft insulation, solid wall insulation and replacement windows. The Scottish Government has announced a separate scheme for Scotland.
Up to £125 million will be available through the scheme, which will commence on January 28 of next year. Households will be granted money on a first-come, first-served basis.
A further £40 million is being made available for localised initiatives to boost energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty.
Paul King, CEO of the UK Green Building Council, says the new measures are welcome but will not be sufficient in and of themselves to deliver on the UK’s environmental goals for green building.
Indeed, King, who says UKGBC is working with a cross-section of wider construction industry representatives to scope broader financial incentives to drive the market for home renovations over the longer term, warns that the new cash scheme risks creating a bubble of initial demand that cannot be sustained.
“We welcome the Government’s announcements today, which will be helpful in raising the profile and demand for energy efficiency at a time when escalating energy prices are at the front of people’s minds,” King says. “But ultimately, if we are to reach 14 million leaky homes and transform attitudes to energy efficiency in the housing market, we will need structural incentives. That’s why we’re working with our members and the wider industry to put forward proposals on ways that Government can drive the market for home retrofit, without costing the earth.”
In addition to householders, the government says its new deal will benefit companies in the sector as well as authorised assessors and installers.