The government didn’t sufficiently understand the challenges facing installers as part of the Green Homes Grant (GHG), having failed to learn from its own previous energy schemes.

That is one of the key findings of a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), aiming to identify lessons for future schemes following the early closure of the voucher segment of the GHG.

Describing the timetable for the scheme as “over-ambitious”, the government watchdog said it wasn’t executed to an acceptable standard, with this having a knock-on effect on the job creation and carbon reduction benefits originally anticipated to come from the scheme.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) only consulted with installers after the scheme was announced, limiting the opportunities to include installer views in the scheme design.

Installers subsequently reported frustrations about the complexity of the scheme and the requirement for participating traders to meet both the registration requirements and also certification for associated quality standards, with installers needing TrustMark or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation.

The costs of certification alongside the short duration of the scheme – which was expected to be six months when first announced – deterred some installers from participating, the NAO found. As of 6 November 2020, there were 248 installers registered to the scheme. By the end of the NAO’s fieldwork, there were 1,008. This echoes findings from the MCS in September 2020, ahead of the scheme’s launch, with its research showing that while over 70% of installers were planning to offer GHG installations, there were significant concerns over the length of the scheme.

For installers who did participate, documentation and verifications had to be provided once compliant works had been completed, with these requirements being complicated and difficult for the homeowner and installers to get right first time. This led to homeowners and installers being asked for further information, which took time and caused frustration.

Alongside this, there was further frustration due to delays in payment. This was widely discussed at the time, with many installers reporting in January they had not been paid while members were waiting for months to be issued vouchers, prompting calls from installers for there to be changes to solve the “desperate situation”.

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