A group of MPs has called on the government to develop a national retrofit strategy with colleges and other education providers to address a lack of installers of energy efficiency measures in buildings.
The call came from the Environmental Audit Committee in a report on the energy efficiency of existing homes published yesterday (22 March).
Stressing the scale of the challenge to retrofit existing homes in order to meet the government’s ambition for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Committee’s report noted that “stop-start” policies and intermittent funding had resulted in a “dearth of installers”.
It said: “A lack of accredited tradespeople has hampered the initial delivery of the Green Homes Grant, and there is a significant risk that the government will not meet its heat pump installation targets due to a lack of qualified tradespeople.”
It said that while it welcomed the launch of a Green Jobs Taskforce and the Green Homes Grant Skills Training Competition, the government needed to create a visible, long-term market to make energy efficiency and heat pump installation a “stable and desirable” profession.
It called on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to work with the Department for Education to fund a dedicated training programme to support a long-term strategy for education and training in green jobs.
It said: “We recommend that as part of the forthcoming Heat and Buildings strategy, a national retrofit strategy is developed with colleges and other education providers to provide the training and re-training needed to prepare our homes for a low-carbon future. The strategy must address the much-needed increase in certified heat pump installers to meet expected demand, including through recruitment incentives, with support for apprenticeships and reskilling.”
Meanwhile, the report criticised the implementation of the Green Homes Grant, which was launched in September last year and offers up to 600,000 homeowners funding to install insulation, heat pumps, draught proofing and other measures to cut energy bills, via a £2bn pot.
It said the grant had been “rushed in conception and poorly implemented” and added that the scheme implementation appeared to be “nothing short of disastrous”. It added: “The impact of its botched implementation has had devastating consequences on many of the builders and installers that can do the work, who have been left in limbo as a result of the orders cancelled and time taken to approve applications.”
The scheme only allows Trustmark- and PAS-registered companies to participate but the MPs said anti-fraud precautions had been “so complex” that vouchers “simply weren’t being issued” to homeowners.
The report recommended: “The Green Homes Grant scheme [should] be urgently overhauled and extended to provide a genuine long-term stimulus to the domestic energy efficiency sector. The scheme should not be scrapped or quietly wound down. The government must address the design and administration issues with the scheme, and all allocated funding that has not been spent by the end of March 2021 should be rolled over into the next financial year. A multi-annual scheme must be delivered to provide the financial support to owner occupiers and build trust within the industry to encourage installers to get accredited and enable companies to hire staff.”
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