UK watchdog slams government's failed green homes plan

The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme allowed homeowners to apply for up to £10,000 ($13,600, 11,700 euros) for the installation of energy efficiency improvements and low-carbon heat measures.

FILE: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: AFP

LONDON - Britain's spending watchdog on Wednesday hit out at a botched government initiative to make homes more energy efficient in the run-up to it hosting a key summit on climate change.

The six-month scheme through to March had been rolled out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, forming part of its efforts to meet targets on net zero carbon emissions.

The UK in November hosts the crucial COP26 United Nations climate summit in Glasgow.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said that "the rushed delivery and implementation of the scheme has significantly reduced the benefits that might have been achieved, caused frustration for homeowners and installers, and had limited impact on job creation for the longer term".

The scheme was aimed also at handing a short-term economic boost to Britain's pandemic-hit economy, the NAO noted.

The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme allowed homeowners to apply for up to £10,000 ($13,600, 11,700 euros) for the installation of energy efficiency improvements and low-carbon heat measures.

The government expected the project to support up to 82,500 jobs over six months and enable up to 600,000 households to save up to £600 on their energy bills.

In fact, only around 47,500 homes will have been upgraded at a cost to the taxpayer of about £314 million, the NAO said.

"While we recognise the desire to act quickly in the interests of delivering an economic stimulus, the government should be prepared to limit or delay the launch of a programme if the evidence suggests it is not ready," it concluded.

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