The government has axed its green homes grant scheme after just six months.
The programme, a key part of the prime minister’s vow to “build back greener”, offered homeowners grants of up to £10,000 to install low-carbon heating or insulation.
The UK is now left without a plan for tackling one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Those who have already had their applications accepted under the scheme will be paid any money owed, however no new applications will be considered from the end of March.
Green campaigners say that the axing of the scheme is a major blow as the government gears up to host the Cop26 UN climate talks in November.
Head of climate at Greenpeace UK, Kate Blagojevic, said: “We’re just seven months away from hosting a global climate conference at which we’re supposed to be leading the world on climate action. But we cannot expect anyone to think we’re a credible leader when our own policies on climate action are going in the wrong direction.”
Campaigns director at the E3G thinktank, Ed Matthew, said: “The demise of the green homes grant is an embarrassment [before Cop26], and a disaster in terms of the UK getting on track to net zero [carbon emissions]. Emissions from buildings and transport have flatlined over the last 10 years. If we don’t have programmes to tackle this, we have no hope of meeting the net zero target.”
The government claims that the scheme was only launched as a short-term solution, a fact that Matthew said is part of the problem: “There has been a stop-start approach [to home energy efficiency] which has stopped businesses investing in skills, and has failed to give households confidence.
“They [the government] must pick themselves up and create a new green programme that works, and has long-term funding in place from the beginning. It is surely not beyond the capability of this government to give money away at a time of economic crisis.”
The secretary of state for business and energy, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Upgrading the country’s homes with energy efficiency measures means we can cut emissions and save people money on their energy bills. Today’s funding boost will mean even more households across England are able to access these vital grants through their local authority. This latest announcement takes our total energy efficiency spending to over £1.3bn in the next financial year, giving installers the certainty they need to plan ahead, create new jobs and train the next generation of builders, plumbers and tradespeople.”
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