James Talman discusses the difficult start to life for the Green Homes Grant scheme, and outlines what NFRC is doing to help roofing contractors achieve the relevant certification so they can carry out work under the scheme, which he admits “is not for everyone”.
The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme was introduced by the UK government last summer as a short-term economic stimulus to help the UK recovery from the impact of the Coronavirus. The £1.5 billion scheme entitles homeowners to a voucher covering two thirds of the cost of certain energy efficiency upgrades, including pitched and flat roof insulation, up to a cap of £5,000. Low income households are entitled to 100 per cent of the cost of measures up to a cap of £10,000.
Investing in the energy efficiency of our leaky housing stock is seen by the government as a good way of creating new skilled jobs and stimulating local economies, while at the same time helping the UK along the way to reaching its net-zero target. Whilst it is very welcome the government is investing so much into our sector, the policy was rushed through without any consultation with industry or a serious assessment of the capacity amongst tradespeople to deliver at such scale in so short a time. This has meant there have been significant issues with the policy, causing untold headaches for homeowners and contractors alike, which has been highlighted in the national press and broadcast media.
Much of the publicity around the vouchers focused on using companies registered with Trustmark, but not so much on the requirement for these companies to be certified to PAS2030. This is a standard developed in order to ensure that those installing energy efficiency measures are competent to do so, and understand the impact of any installation on the ‘whole house’. This is mandated in order to avoid some of the poor workmanship seen in this area in the past.
Unless companies were involved in government schemes such as ECO, there was no mandated reason to be PAS2030 certified previously. This meant that when the scheme was launched there were very few tradespeople able to actually install measures through the scheme. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee found that, unsurprisingly, 75 per cent of respondents to their survey found it difficult to find an installer. The government recognised this lack of capacity in the industry, and after lobbying from various organisations – including NFRC – decided to delay the vouchers by a year until March 2022.
So, what is NFRC doing to help roofing contractors get the relevant certification and do work through the scheme?
Following the launch of the grant, the NFRC Competent Person Scheme (CPS) applied to UKAS for an extension of scope for PAS2030 accreditation, to allow roofing contractors the opportunity to achieve certification and undertake work through the scheme. It is anticipated that this accreditation will be available by early Spring 2021 and NFRC CPS will be able to start certifying roofing contractors to the PAS2030:2019 standard for flat roof, pitched roof and room in roof insulation from this date onwards.
The Green Homes Grant is not for everyone and is definitely not a quick or easy way to win more work. Achieving PAS2030 requires a lot of time, effort and financial investment and roofing contractors will need to seriously consider the costs against the potential work that could be gained through achieving it. However, for those who do wish to make the investment, this is a growing part of the market, and is likely to pay dividends in the long term. NFRC CPS will be producing further guidance and advice on PAS2030 over the coming months to help roofing contractors make an informed choice, and ensure they know exactly what they need to do to achieve certification.