Green homes grant: UK standards body calls on government to pay up

The industry standards body for renewable energy installers is calling on the government to immediately rectify the failure to pay businesses for work on the green homes grant, which is leading, according to some companies, to rising debts and job losses.

Installers of renewable energy systems have been left unpaid for several months by the government, the Guardian reported this week, while long delays were putting members of the public off the scheme. Ian Rippin, who leads the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), said he had since spoken to the government about the “numerous issues” that have come to light relating to the flagship £2bn green homes grant.

The grants are intended to help the UK move to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 by providing financial help for householders to switch from fossil fuel systems to renewable energy. The grants – of £5,000 and £10,000 – also cover the installation of insulation to make homes more energy efficient.

The government has promised that 600,000 householders will be helped to make their homes less carbon intensive. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said four months after the scheme was set up, it had given approximately 25% of householders who’d applied approval to carry out work.

But installers who spoke to the Guardian said they would not be doing any more work until they were paid the tens of thousands of pounds owed by the government dating back to last autumn.

The contract to run the grants was awarded to a large American global consulting firm ICF. Details of the contract amount have not been published.

Rippin, who runs the organisation which sets industry standards for renewable energy providers, said he was talking to the government about overcoming many issues. He said he wanted the MCS to become more involved in the administration of the grants after installers complained of delays, inefficient communication and a lack of expert knowledge.

Rippin said: “We welcomed the green homes grant, and remain committed to it, though we are firm in our demand that the ongoing issues around payments need rectifying immediately.

“As the standards organisation for domestic renewables, we fully understand the cost – in both time and money – of domestic renewable installations and feel the extreme frustration that the industry is experiencing at this time.”

Rippin said MCS was acting as an adviser to the government for the scheme. He said he was calling for more openness around the way the green homes grants were being run.

He said: “We have reiterated our call for more transparency in how the scheme is administered and for greater efficiencies in terms of releasing installer payments.

“The role of MCS is to protect installers and consumers by upholding rigorous industry standards. In doing so, we are fully invested in protecting our certified installers’ interests.”

One installer of spray foam insulation, who did not want to be named, said the government owed him £68,000 and despite speaking every day to the grant call centre he had still not been paid for the work.

He said: “They are ruining my business. I am technically insolvent now, and I have had to lay people off and shut one of my branches.”

ICF has not responded to requests for a comment.