Chancellor to boost UK energy-saving home improvements

UK homeowners will receive vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy-saving home improvements, the chancellor is set to announce.

According to the BBC, Rishi Sunak is due to set out a £2bn grant scheme in England for projects such as insulation as part of a wider £3bn plan to cut carbon emissions. The Treasury said the grants could help to support more than 100,000 jobs.

Under the Green Homes Grant, the government will pay at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy, the Treasury said.

The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers.

Once one of these suppliers has provided a quote and the work is approved, the voucher is issued.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Business Secretary Alok Sharma added that the poorest households could receive up to £10,000 towards costs, and that double glazing would also be covered by the scheme.

He continued: “What [the scheme] ultimately means is lower bills for households, hundreds of pounds off energy bills every year, it’s supporting jobs and is very good news for the environment.”

The government said about half of the fund - which is due to be spent in one financial year - will go to the poorest homeowners, who will not have to contribute anything to the cost. Better insulation could save some people £600 a year on energy bills, the Treasury said.

Sunak said the investment would also help to “kick-start our economy” by creating thousands of jobs and providing business for existing skilled workers, as the UK recovers from the economic shock of coronavirus.

“As Britain recovers from the outbreak, it’s vital we do everything in our power to support and protect livelihoods across the nation,” he said.

The grants are part of a wider £3bn “green investment” package due to be announced in the chancellor's summer statement, to support efforts to rebuild the economy after the pandemic.

The plan aims to create tens of thousands of new jobs while helping the UK meet its 2050 target of achieving net zero carbon emissions.

It will involve improving insulation in public buildings such as schools and hospitals and retro-fitting low-carbon heating technology to social housing.

 The Conservative manifesto had pledged £9.2bn for improving the energy efficiency of low-income housing and public buildings.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband welcomed the plan but stressed that it was not “comprehensive”.

“It appears there is almost nothing for the people who rent the 8.5m homes in the social rented sector and private rented sector, which has the worst energy efficiency standards. That means one-third of people are left out,” he said.

While calling the £3bn package a “welcome” first step, the Institute for Public Policy Research said that the package “falls far short of the £30bn public investment gap that needs to be filled to get the UK on track to meet net zero.”

“Investing for a clean recovery could create over 1.6m good jobs, be good for the environment and would be popular with the public,” it said.

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