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21 June 2021

Green Homes Grant Explained

The Green Homes Grant scheme is closed to new applications. If you already have vouchers for energy efficiency measures, including insulation, you can still use them.
SI
Sarah Ingrams
Family-in-a-warm-home-in-winter

What was the Green Homes Grant?

It was a government grant for homeowners in England to help pay for certain energy-efficient home improvements.

The Green Homes Grant launched in September 2020 and closed to new applications at 5pm on 31 March 2021.

Grants can pay at least two thirds of the cost of some energy-saving renovations. The maximum amount available was £5,000, or £10,000 if you get certain benefits.

Applications made before the scheme closed will be processed. The scheme will contact you to tell you if your application is successful. If you have already received your voucher, you should redeem it before it expires, though you can ask for the deadline to use it to be extended.

If you’re struggling to pay your gas and electricity bills, other help is available. Find out about other home grants, including Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount. Financial support is also available for solar panels (called the Smart Export Guarantee) and renewable heating systems (read about the Renewable Heat Incentive).

Also take a look at our tips to save money on your energy bills.

What does the Green Homes Grant cover?

You will get a separate voucher for each energy efficient home improvement. Vouchers are valid only for the home and the measure that you applied for. At least one of your vouchers must be for a ‘primary’ measure:

You could apply for top-up insulation if you didn’t already have the maximum recommended amount. But the vouchers can’t be used to replace existing insulation or low-carbon heating.

To have low-carbon heating installed, your home will need to have cavity or solid wall insulation and loft insulation (where applicable). You can have these installed as part of a package.

Low-carbon heating must be for heating your home or domestic hot water and replace a fossil fuel system. You could not apply for vouchers for outdoor heating or swimming pools. 

You could only apply for a biomass boiler if you live in a rural area. It must have a valid emissions certificate and burn only authorised fuel.

If you install one of the improvements in the list above using the scheme, you could also get vouchers for a ‘secondary’ energy-saving measure from the list below:

  • Double glazing, triple glazing or secondary glazing (only when you're replacing single glazing)
  • Energy-efficient doors (only if you are replacing doors fitted before 2002)
  • Hot water tank thermostat or appliance thermostat
  • Hot water tank insulation
  • Smart heating controls, zone controls, thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
  • Draught proofing

Can I still get a Green Homes Grant voucher?

The deadline to apply for Green Homes Grant vouchers was 5pm on 31 March 2021. 

If you applied before then, your application will be processed. You will be contacted to confirm if you were successful and got a voucher.

If you have a Green Homes Grant voucher, you should redeem it and make sure the work it covers is completed before the voucher expires. 

Vouchers are valid for three months from when they are issued. Work should be completed before you redeem the voucher. Your voucher will contain details of how to redeem it. 

Once you have your voucher, you can ask to extend its expiry date. You must do this before it expires. Contact the administrator of the scheme, called ICF, to do this. You can do this using the government's Green Homes Grant scheme contact form, webchat or by phoning 0300 131 0053 (between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday).

If you're considering installing a heat pump or solar water heating, funding from the Renewable Heat Incentive is still available until next year. Find out what is the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Who qualified for the Green Homes Grant?

You must be a homeowner in England to qualify for the vouchers. It was not available in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Homeowners include owner-occupiers, social and private landlords and park home owners.

New-build homes weren't eligible.

Is the Green Homes Grant means-tested?

All homeowners could apply for funding for at least two thirds of the cost of eligible home improvements, up to a total value of £5,000.

Some homeowners qualified for vouchers covering the total cost of home improvements, costing up to £10,000. For this, you needed to receive at least one of the following:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Pension Guarantee Credit
  • Working Tax Credit (WTC)
  • Child Tax Credits (CTC)
  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Contribution-based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Housing Benefit

How much could I get in home improvement grants?

The vouchers paid for at least two thirds of eligible measures, up to the value of £5,000.

For example, if you wanted to install insulation costing £4,000, you would pay £1,320 and the government would give you a voucher for the other £2,680.

How much of a grant you could get for ‘secondary’ energy-efficient improvements depended on the amount you received for the ‘primary’ measure (insulation or low-carbon heating).

For example, if you got £1,000 of vouchers for loft insulation, then you would be eligible for up to £1,000 of vouchers towards a secondary measure (such as double glazing or hot water tank insulation).

Those on the lowest incomes didn't have to pay anything towards their home improvements and could get vouchers of up to £10,000. You'd need to receive certain benefits to qualify (see above).


Can I choose any trader to do Green Homes Grant work?

Traders must be TrustMark approved or MCS registered to be able to do work in your home covered by the Green Homes Grant scheme. You'll need to use one from the government's list of accredited traders in your area.

By mid-February 2021, 938 companies were registered to carry out Green Homes Grant work, according to BEIS. However, we've heard reports that some homeowners have struggled to find a trader in their area. Before the scheme closed, BEIS told us that more companies were registering every day, including national businesses with 'substantial capacity to carry out work across the country'.

TrustMark is a government-endorsed scheme for tradespeople that vets their technical competence, customer service and trading practices. The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certifies that low-carbon technologies that generate electricity and heat, and installers of them, meet quality standards.

Also check that any trader you use is a Which? Trusted Trader to ensure you’re using a firm that’s reputable and reliable.

TrustMark and MCS both have lists of traders registered with their schemes so you can double check.

Can the Green Homes Grant be used for solar panels?

Solar thermal panels were eligible for funding as part of the Green Homes Grant. Also called solar water heating, this uses panels on your roof to heat water to use around your home.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that produce electricity weren't eligible for vouchers. Find out more about solar PV panels, including how much they cost and how to get paid for electricity you produce.

How long does it take to get a Green Homes Grant voucher?

There is no published timescale for how long it takes to get your voucher after you apply. Some take weeks, but others longer, a spokesperson for the government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) told us. We've heard about customers waiting several months for vouchers.

If you applied before 5pm on 31 March 2021 when the scheme closed, the government says it will process your application. It will contact you to tell you if your application was successful.

There were more than 30,000 applications for vouchers in the final month of the scheme. 

At the end of March 2021, just 8,557 had the work completed and the voucher paid. Around 54,500 vouchers were approved (and the installation was being arranged, in progress or having post-installation checks). Another 23,500 needed further information before the voucher could be issued.

Being asked for additional information is part of the scheme's 'robust fraud and gaming checks'. BEIS told us: 'This can sometimes result in slightly longer processing times, but is necessary to ensure value for money for the taxpayer'.

Common reasons that applicants are asked for more information before they get their voucher include:

  • quotes being higher than expected
  • no paperwork submitted
  • incorrect paperwork submitted
  • the type of work requested isn't covered by the Green Homes Grant scheme.

How do I pay for home improvements with Green Homes Grant vouchers?

Applying for a voucher doesn't guarantee that you will get one. Wait to see if you will get a voucher before you commit to starting any work.

You'll get a different voucher for each measure. It is only valid for the measure and the property you applied for. It must be used by the person named on it.

The installer might ask for a deposit. It cannot be more than the amount you expect to pay towards the home improvement. For example, if your voucher covers two thirds of the cost of a £3,000 insulation installation, then you cannot be asked to pay more than £1,000 deposit. However, the installer also should not ask for a bigger deposit than they would ordinarily.

If you are eligible for up to £10,000 of vouchers as part of the low income scheme, you should not be asked to pay a deposit unless the measures will cost more than £10,000.

When the work is complete, you must redeem the voucher. To do this, you will need to confirm the work is complete, that you have received any necessary documents from the installer, pay your share of the costs and provide a dated copy of the invoice from the installer. 

The trader or installer will then be paid directly by the government. Before they are paid the installer must log the work and the administrator of the scheme carries out checks. These can include inspecting the work. Once it has done this, the installer should be paid within five working days. 

You must redeem the voucher before it expires in order to qualify for the government support. 

Do the vouchers cover installation and labour?

Green Homes Grant vouchers cover contractor costs including labour, materials, scaffolding, waste removal and VAT. Professional services to make sure your installation complies with standards are covered too, such as design drawings, structural engineers, modelling to estimate payback time and costs of damp specialists.

The vouchers also cover work that is necessary for the eligible measure to be installed. For example repairing and treating damp or vital structural improvements. For low carbon heating the pipes, pumps, valves, heating system controls and new high capacity radiators or underfloor heating are covered.

But the vouchers do not cover EPCs, building surveys, training costs, asbestos removal, additional buildings insurance or design, repair or replacement that's not linked to the eligible work. You can't claim for furniture storage or alternative accommodation costs during work at your home.