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Household to get £5,000 to replace gas boilers, but unions warn flawed heat pump plan will cause unemployment and rising bills

by our parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt

THE Tory government’s green heat pump plan “ducks the hard questions on the future of home heating” and will cause unemployment and rising bills, GMB warned today.

The general union slammed Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s announcement of £5,000 grants to help 90,000 households transition from carbon-hungry gas boilers as falling far short of the amount required.

Typical heat pump installations currently cost between £6,000 and £18,000, depending on home size, according to the BBC.

After the Committee on Climate Change warned of a lack of heat pump installers, the GMB also stressed that the workforce required for the task “currently does not exist at any serious scale.”

Additionally, green campaigners argued that the initiative, which will have £450 million funding for the next three years as part of £3.9 billion to decarbonise heat, is voluntary and falls short of a legal ban on the installation of gas boilers beyond 2035.

Carbon emissions from homes make up about a fifth of the country’s total.

GMB national secretary Andy Prendergast said: “Describing this as a ‘plan to drive down the cost of clean heat’ is blatantly misleading. 

“Ministers are letting down customers who will see their bills rocket and the skilled gas workforce who will see their jobs go to the wall.

“This isn’t how you take workers and communities with you on the journey to net zero. 

“Without a proper industrial plan, today’s announcement will deliver nothing but rocketing bills and unemployment.”

Greenpeace’s Caroline Jones said that unambitious policies and inadequate funding are hampering efforts to decarbonise housing, while shadow business secretary Ed Miliband blasted the “meagre, unambitious and wholly inadequate” proposal.  

Ministers claimed that the “market-led” scheme is based on projections that the price for heat pumps will drop by between a quarter and a half by 2025.

Other net zero policies announced today, including more grants for electric cars as well as cash for tree planting and peat restoration projects, were branded “a huge let down” by the TUC.

The body’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “The government has failed to implement many of the main recommendations of its own green jobs taskforce – just two weeks before it hosts the [Cop26 United Nations] climate conference.

“That’s not the way to show global leadership – it’s self-sabotage.

“Unless ministers do more to future-proof and decarbonise energy-intensive industries, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be in jeopardy.”

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