17th July 2020
The government’s Green Homes Grant Scheme has caused concern in the UK’s £6bn glazing industry, by encouraging homeowners to delay work which the sector needs now in order to recover from the slowdown caused by the pandemic.
Here at Eurocell plc, we’re joining other glazing businesses, systems houses, installers and industry bodies in calling for greater clarity around the scheme and for the start date to be brought forward so that it doesn’t risk inadvertently damaging the sector.
What is the Green Homes Grant Scheme
Announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week, the Green Homes Grant Scheme will see eligible homeowners receive vouchers of up to £5,000 to pay for environmentally friendly improvements, including double glazing.
Unlike many recent government plans to help the UK economy, this scheme will not currently start immediately but will instead be delayed until September.
The announcement’s impact
Since the announcement, a large number of window orders have been cancelled as homeowners seek to save money by upgrading their homes later in the year when the vouchers are available.
Glazing is an industry that encompasses over 12,000 SME businesses and employs 60,000 people across the country. Getting the support right for the sector is therefore imperative in order to protect a significant part of the economy and protect a large number of livelihoods.
The Green Homes Grant Scheme is a great idea for stimulating the home improvement market, but with only minimal details available and at least six weeks until implementation it could cause more harm than good for the industry.
The typical value for an installed replacement window is around £450, so by offering £5,000 vouchers, homeowners are seeing the value of an entire home window refit coming their way. The downside of this is that orders are being put on hold which the glazing industry needs now if it is to recover from the lockdown – pushing this income back means that by the time it arrives many suppliers and installers will have had to face redundancies or even going out of business.
The government must act
We are standing together with other glazing industry businesses and associations in calling on the government to act quickly to undo the damage that this announcement has caused. We’ve written to our local MP to make the case for changing the scheme and have been supporting the campaign spearheaded by Roy Frost, CEO at GJB Window Systems, to raise awareness of the issue.
Specific action that we want the Chancellor to take includes not only bringing the scheme forward, but also supplying more details about it, such as which building materials will be claimable and who exactly is going to count as eligible.
The Government department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has said that the scheme is going to include energy-efficient windows and doors as part of a wider refurbishment of homes aimed at achieving EPC Level C. However, would this apply only to first-time double-glazing installations or would existing but old double-glazing also be eligible for replacement? This needs to be spelled out, as if it’s only the former then homeowners could be delaying projects that won’t be covered by the voucher scheme.
In addition, so that cancelled orders can be reinstated as soon as possible, we would also highly recommend making the scheme as simple as possible and allowing the vouchers to be backdated for work in July and August.
Finding the best route forward
We know that these are currently unprecedented times and that there’s no tried-and-tested route map that the government can take. While we acknowledge that this scheme is in principle a good idea and that the home improvement market is happy to receive as much support as possible, unfortunately the way that this scheme has been communicated has created more problems than it’s solved.
More consultation is required with the industry before announcements like these are made to help avoid this type of situation and, now that the announcement has been made, the government needs to listen to the industry to help get our recovery back on track