Home improvement it is. In a jaw-dropping move that could pave the way for the rest of the world to follow (and slip more energy-efficient homes to the planet), England’s Treasury led by Rishi Sunak, its young Chancellor of the Exchequer, is set to deliver a £2bn grant scheme to promote energy-saving improvements in homes all over the coronavirus-riddled nation.
From the onset, the environment-friendly move designed to revitalize the failing economy devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic should be a shot in the arm for the country of over 67 million English men and women. Not only will it translate to thousands of jobs for workers who have suffered adversely since March when lockdowns started, but also, the plan is expected to produce long term results. Creating more energy-efficient homes for a greener planet.
However, don’t get all your hopes up just yet. Truth be told: The financial aid is not meant for every household in England; instead, it targets mid-to-low income homeowners. In effect, while poorer households can expect from £5,000 to £10,000 dole-outs, renters are excluded from getting the aid. An idea averse to the Labour Party which in turn has called for a “broader and bigger” plan to limit overall carbon emissions.
Certainly, it’s high time homeowners, energy auditors, and home inspectors get their act together and come up with a doable plan for energy-saving home improvements. To get themselves back on their feet starting this September when the home improvements packages start rolling. And jumpstart the battered nation’s healing process.
Green Homes Grant: Shooting Two Birds with One Stone
Green, they say, is the color of money. Alternatively, green is also what we want our planet to be. This time around it can mean both.
In an ingenious move, the UK government under the Green Homes Grant will shoulder a minimum of two-thirds of the cost of energy-saving home improvements, confided the Treasury.
In effect, the administration is shooting two birds in one stone: better the planet we live in while at the same time boosting the country’s free-falling economy dismantled by the pandemic.
What’s interesting is the financial aid is geared to help the poorest households. And this has been confirmed by no less than the dashing Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.
In an interview over BBC Breakfast, Sharma detailed that the most impoverished of households may receive as much as £10,000 to cover costs. And right on point, he added that double glazing can be funded by the said financial grant.
Expounding, the Business Secretary added: "What [the scheme] ultimately means is lower bills for households, hundreds of pounds off energy bills every year, it's supporting jobs and is very good news for the environment."
Even better, the poorest of homeowners who are expected to get the biggest share of the pie won’t need to contribute any penny whatsoever from their own pockets to cover costs. Rough estimates detail more than half of the funds will go to these less fortunate homes.
Already, the Treasury estimated that aided households could save as much as £600 yearly on their respective energy bills.
Moreover, said financial aid is part of a greater “green investment” package amounting to £3bn with the following two-fold goals:
- (Long term) helping the UK achieve its 2050 target of zero net carbon emissions
- (Short term) while at the same time boosting the struggling economy by creating new jobs by the tens of thousands.
Mr. Sunak who plans to announce everything in days to come confirmed the grants should also “kick-start the economy” by providing needed jobs and business for home improvement workers.
Further, the Business Secretary added: "As Britain recovers from the outbreak, it's vital we do everything in our power to support and protect livelihoods across the nation."
Home Improvement Details under the Microscope
Firstly, hold your horses.
To make the most out of the Green Homes Grant, skilled workers (energy auditors, DIYers, home inspectors) must do their due diligence to have projects catered to.
To note, not every home improvement job will be covered. As specified on the Green Homes Grant, the government is set to pay only home improvements designed to save energy, detailed the Treasury.
Concrete examples of such energy-saving projects are:
- floor insulation
- installation of a cavity wall
Under the grant’s scheme, computation should be as follows:
- Grant Scheme 1
- Grant Scheme 2
Due to launch this September, the grant is targeted to be distributed in just one financial year. Online applications shall be provided with a list of recommended home energy-saving projects provided together with pertinent details of officially-sanctioned local suppliers.
In its entirety, the £3bn greater green investment package is meant to be comprehensive. For one, improving the overall insulation of public buildings (e.g, hospitals, schools) is top of its agenda. So is drastic retro-fitting of social housing with heating technologies that are distinctively low carbon.
Secondly, even when Mr. Sunak faces an uphill climb of reviving the economy, the brilliant financial grant he espouses is not without some opposition.
For one, Ed Miliband, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy found the plan “not comprehensive”. Largely falling short.
Specifically, the former leader of the Labour Party, cited that “one-third of people are left out” as there is “nothing for the people who rent the 8.5 million homes in the social rented sector and private rented sector”.
Ironically, these numerous rented homes don the lowest standards in energy efficiency, Milliband stressed.
Not to be outdone, Greenpeace UK senior political advisor Rosie Rogers, commented that the UK is left far behind and is not “playing in the same league” as countries leading the charge on cutting carbon emissions. The fiery leader cited:
- Germany investing €40bn (about £36bn in equivalent) to energy efficiency and green jobs
- France which has earmarked €15bn in tackling the climate crisis
And yet, this green investment grant could be the spark to ignite needed action to help all of the 7.594 billion inhabitants on planet Earth.
Thus, despite all the flak, no one can deny that with all the chaos the world is in today, a thrust to jumpstart the British economy by generating jobs geared towards more energy-efficient homes all over England is one giant step worth taking.
For the home improvement of England and the home improvement of our planet.