Following the news that the Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme is no longer taking applications, the government has work to do in the run up to the COP26 climate change summit in November, says chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, Tom Reynolds.
"The demise of the Green Homes Grant just six months after its launch, is being viewed by some as a black mark in the government’s copy book. It had been heralded as the flagship scheme in the new era of ‘green industrial revolution’, but the £1bn programme meant to bring insulation and double glazing to 600,000 homes, managed to reach just 40,000. Green campaigners said the scrapping of the programme – the only major green stimulus policy – is a major embarrassment in the run up to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November. But BEIS says it wants to ‘refocus efforts and funding on an alternative approaches to maximise the delivery of home retrofits'.
"I’m hoping this is a signal of better things to come. At BMA, we backed an extensive coalition of 50 construction organisations supporting the CLC National Retrofit Strategy ahead of the budget. The KBB industry has an important role to play, with the bulk of domestic water use taking place in the kitchen and bathroom, and in providing the inspirational spaces that can sugar the pill of weeks or months of inconvenience during works.
"As well as transforming the energy and water performance of the UK’s homes, a comprehensive retrofit programme has the power to unlock hundreds of thousands of jobs and generate an economic stimulus across the country. A boost for the ‘levelling up’ agenda.
"It is a 20-year blueprint designed to provide a whole-house approach, with the power to transform the repair, maintenance and improvement sector, and put a stake in the ground in terms of this country’s response to the existential threat of our time – climate change. It is a big ask. In reality, it will require a Herculean effort to handle 27 million domestic interventions.
"This kind of political ambition requires cross-Whitehall thinking and long-term strategic commitment beyond the life of one parliament. But what is the alternative? If we’re serious about our environmental aspirations, then it’s crucial we address our existing housing stock, upgrading it in a co-ordinated way, and simultaneously improving the quality of life for millions of people. The net-zero target can be a catalyst for so much more. Government will be making a raft of announcements ahead of COP26, and it’s fair to say the sector is waiting with keen anticipation to see their next move."