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Government slashes funding for green homes scheme

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced that the green homes grant voucher scheme launched last July will close on Wednesday

CAMPAIGNERS and MPs have accused ministers of “going in the wrong direction” on the climate crisis after a £1.5 billion flagship scheme to insulate homes was scrapped six months after its launch.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced at the weekend that the green homes grant voucher scheme launched last July will close on Wednesday.

The scheme, previously due to run until March next year, was a key part of the government’s climate strategy. It offered households grants of up to £5-10,000 for those on low incomes – to pay for insulation or low-carbon heating.

The scheme has been abandoned as Britain prepares to host a United Nations climate conference called COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced on Saturday that a mere £300 million will instead be invested in energy-saving upgrades for homes and low carbon heating in England.

Greenpeace UK head 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.”

Energy UK chief executive Emma Pinchbeck said that there had been “real enthusiasm” for the scheme among the public. She warned that “scrapping it before it got off the ground will undermine trust.

“Secondly, £300m is not enough to close the gap with the government’s own net zero target,” Ms Pinchbeck added.

Labour’s shadow climate change minister Matthew Pennycook also condemned the government for its decision to slash funding for green schemes from more than £1bn to just £300m.

Green MP Caroline Lucas accused the government of “staggering incompetence” and said that “ministerial heads should roll.”

She said that the government now has no plan for tackling one of biggest sources of climate emissions, while fuel poverty will continue and businesses face ruin.

More than 123,000 applications for green homes grants had been made by the end of February, but only 28,000 vouchers issued and only 5,800 energy efficiency measures installed.

In a damning assessment of the programme, the Commons environmental audit committee said last week that ministers had “significantly underestimated” the cost of retrofitting homes to save energy.

The “botched” implementation of policies had been “nothing short of disastrous,” said the cross-party panel of MPs.

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