Complaints about the Green Homes Grant are stacking up since the scheme launched at the end of September with experts calling for the existing deadline of 31 March 2021 to be extended.
A number of households claim they have been unable to book traders due to lack of availability while others have been rejected as they do not fit the criteria.
Other concerns include traders doorstepping households claiming to be available for cut price work as part of the grant.
Due to the number of problems households are having surrounding the grant, there are calls to extend the current deadline by as much as a year.
There have been complaints from households unable to sign up to the Green Homes Grant
This is because applicants only have six months between the Grant opening and shutting to have all improvements finished, frustrating both households and tradespeople who are often ‘booked months ahead’.
Under the Green Homes Grant, the Government has made available 600,000 vouchers for energy efficiency improvements to homes and has set aside a budget of £2billion that households can apply for from today.
The vouchers are worth up to £5,000 for a variety of energy efficiency and heating measures, such as insulation and double glazing, increasing to £10,000 for fuel poor homes.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: ‘The Green Homes Grant will give the economy an immediate boost as we build back better from coronavirus, creating tens of thousands of jobs, cutting people’s energy bills and reducing carbon emissions.’
‘We are working hard to ensure there are enough accredited installers to meet demand.
‘Over 1,000 companies have signed up so far with more registering every single day, including many businesses that operate nationally with substantial capacity to carry out work across the country.’
It added that the potential funding for future years will be determined in due course and did not say whether it is currently planning for the deadline to be extended.
This is Money asked BEIS whether traders would be allowed to cold call households trying to flog their business after hearing of instances in which property owners have been approached.
Frustrated: A number of households have said they were told they are not eligible for vouchers
It said that while directly approaching consumers is not banned under the scheme, all installers who wish to take part are required to register with TrustMark, the Government endorsed quality scheme, and to comply with TrustMark’s code of conduct.
This includes guidance on cold calling and high pressure selling and prohibits trading practices that are unfair to consumers.
How can I apply?
To find out if you are eligible for funding under the Green Home Grants and how you can apply, click here.
Installers need to act in line with TrustMark’s code of conduct by respecting a consumer’s wishes not to receive unsolicited visits if they have stated so.
It added that the Green Homes Grant scheme will never include official representatives coming to a property uninvited or cold calling on the phone to encourage households to join the scheme.
As such, households should be aware if anyone comes to their property claiming to be a legitimate trader looking for business.
Checkatrade previously told This is Money that households need to be wary when booking work, saying all property owners should ensure they check carefully they are paying a reputable tradesperson.
Primary measures installed under the Grant before secondary ones, such as double glazing
Mike Fairman, chief executive of Checkatrade, said: ‘We can understand why homeowners may be tempted to use a tradesperson who has immediate and ample availability, however this can sometimes be a sign of a rogue trade.
‘We’d recommend homeowners continue to be vigilant when choosing someone to carry out any works.’
Instead, households are advised to use the Simple Energy Advice installer finder tool to find reputable traders.
Meanwhile, other households have said it has been next to impossible to find traders available in their areas, as we warned would be the case when the scheme launched.
Most will be booked far in advance whilst others will have been snapped up quickly once the scheme was revealed.
As the deadline to have all work completed under the scheme is 31 March 2021, many are now concerned they will not be able to take advantage of the programme.
Similarly, others have said they have been told they are not eligible for vouchers as they would first have to take out what the Government call ‘primary measures’.
Such primary measures include solid wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, under-floor insulation, loft insulation, flat or pitched roof insulation, roof insulation or insulating a park home.
However, many have said such primary measures are not appropriate for their home, meaning they are unable to access secondary measures, also covered by the Grant.
These include double or triple glazing, hot water tank insulation, draught proofing and heating controls.
Many of these frustrated households have taken to social media to share why the Green Homes Grant is not working for them.
This Twitter user said she has contacted multiple traders who have refused to work
Another user said she cannot find any registered tradespeople to complete work in her home
This user said there is nobody nearby that is available to carry out work under the scheme
One person said they can only get work done after the deadline has ended in March next year
Experts are now calling on the deadline to be extended by as much as a year to allow for households to make the most of it.
Matt Clemow, chief executive of Igloo, a challenger energy supplier, said: ‘The deadline for the Green Homes Grant vouchers must be extended by a year.
‘When the scheme was first announced the Government hailed an era of greener homes, more jobs and cheaper bills. But all of these are at risk if the scheme is not allowed to run beyond the 31 March deadline.
‘Homeowners need more time to find accredited installers to do the works.
‘Rushing people in to making financial decisions could result in opportunistic rogue traders taking advantage of both the customer and the scheme with poor installation and bad advice.
‘Installers need more time to meet demand, train up new talent and create the jobs promised by the scheme. Even the government needs more time.
‘Without an extension come March 2021 this future looking scheme will be considered a failure, risking jobs instead of creating them in our industry and tarnishing the image of the energy efficient home improvements the scheme set out to promote – pushing us further from our national target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. We must act.’
How to protect yourself from doorstep scammers
There are several things you can do to ensure you are not scammed by doorstep salesmen.
Which? has provided some top tips on protecting yourself:
1) Be on your guard: Always be suspicious of anyone turning up at the door uninvited – regardless of their story.
2) Put up a sign: Place a sign in the window near your front door saying that uninvited callers are not welcome.
3) Keep your home secure: Don’t let any stranger into your home. Keep your doors locked with the chain on. Ask to see callers’ ID cards and call the company to see if they are genuine. To be safe, look up the company number yourself rather than trust the number on their ID card.
If you feel uncomfortable or have any doubts, don’t let them in. It’s your home. Tell them you’re not interested or that now is ‘not convenient’ and ask them to come back at a different time (when you can have a friend or relative with you).
4) Take a photo: If you’re suspicious, ask the caller if you can take their photo on your mobile phone. Then send it to a close friend or relative. If the caller is genuine, they probably won’t mind.