Home owners who have worried about not having enough time to take advantage of the Green Homes Grant will be delighted to learn that the scheme has just been extended. Applicants now have until 2022 to apply for vouchers contributing to energy-saving home improvements.
Property experts and personal finances champion Martin Lewis have previously called on the government to extend the scheme after raising concerns about the tight time frame that meant millions of home owners could lose out on the government contribution of up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements up to £5,000.
The main problem with the Grant as it was, according to Martin Lewis, was the 'postcode lottery' created by the uneven distribution of TrustMark-certified engineers – booking one is a required step to qualifying for the scheme. Some homeowners found that their nearest qualified engineer was tens of miles away, which would mean waiting in a long queue of applicants and potentially missing out.
The scheme operates using vouchers that had to be used within three months of issue, or until 31 March 2021, whichever came sooner. This was never going to be realistic who would need to wait months for their home improvement project to even begin, let alone complete it in time. The extension will allow more people to benefit from the scheme – although not necessarily everyone who would like to, because the problem of the scarcity of certified tradespeople hasn't gone away, and there may still not be enough of them to go around. Mike Fairman, chief executive of Checkatrade, said:
'Put simply, there still aren’t enough trained and qualified tradespeople to carry out the work – we know some of our accredited members are being contacted by homeowners over 50 miles from their usual patches as demand far outstrips supply.
'Until better investment is made in training and upskilling professionals, we’re likely to see many homeowners experience the same issues, irrespective of any extensions to the scheme. If you’re a homeowner looking to benefit from the grants, you should look to get in touch with a tradesperson as soon as possible.'
The precise details of the new deadline haven't been released yet, nor is it clear whether the terms of the Grant – what home improvements qualify and how much people can claim – will change in any way. Watch this space for updates as more details are released.