Gas boiler repair work

Plans to provide £5,000 grants for low-carbon boiler upgrades are ‘inadequate’

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The Government has unveiled £5,000 grants to encourage homeowners to upgrade aging boiler systems to low carbon options such as heat pumps, although green campaigners believe the measures don’t go nearly far enough.

The £450m Boiler Upgrade Scheme is part of more than £3.9bn of new funding being announced today by the Government for decarbonising heat and buildings.

It wants to incentivise people to install low-carbon heating systems by providing subsidies to make the technology more affordable.

But the current plan only has enough funds to adequately help 30,000 homes upgrade their heating systems when the target is to install 600,000 heat pumps annually in order to reduce the UK’s household carbon emissions.

Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Kate Blagojevic, said: “While £5000 grants and a 2035 boiler phase-out date are a decent start, they aren’t ambitious enough to adequately tackle emissions from homes or support low income households to switch.

“What’s also missing from these reports is any mention of a programme to insulate the UK’s millions of draughty homes. Low-carbon heating must go hand-in-hand with improving energy efficiency, you can’t have one without the other.

“Then it’s up to the Chancellor to deliver the required £12bn a year in his Spending Review to make cutting emissions from homes a reality. Without these other key elements, the strategy will be like a builder who comes without his tools and simply won’t be up the job.”

The Government said it wants to work with industry to ensure that heat pumps cost the same to buy and run as fossil fuel boilers by 2030, with big cost reductions of between a quarter and a half by 2025 expected as the market expands and technology develops.

It added that it won’t force anyone to remove their existing fossil fuel boilers, with a leisurely 14-year transition period put in place.

Last year, the Heat Commission called for conventional gas boilers to be banned from 2025 in order to shift people over to lower-carbon technologies as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “As we clean up the way we heat our homes over the next decade, we are backing our brilliant innovators to make clean technology like heat pumps as cheap to buy and run as gas boilers – supporting thousands of green jobs.

“Our new grants will help homeowners make the switch sooner, without costing them extra, so that going green is the better choice when their boiler needs an upgrade.”

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “Recent volatile global gas prices have highlighted the need to double down on our efforts to reduce Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels and move away from gas boilers over the coming decade to protect consumers in long term. 

“As the technology improves and costs plummet over the next decade, we expect low carbon heating systems will become the obvious, affordable choice for consumers. Through our new grant scheme, we will ensure people are able to choose a more efficient alternative in the meantime.”

Labour condemned the plans saying they were little more than “hot air” from Johnson with insufficient financial backing.

The shadow business and energy secretary, Ed Miliband, said: “As millions of families face an energy and cost of living crisis, this is a meagre, unambitious and wholly inadequate response. People can’t warm their homes with yet more of Boris Johnson’s hot air, but that is all that is on offer.”

Matthew Fell, CBI chief policy director, said: “£5,000 heat pump grants will help get the ball rolling when it comes to decarbonising homes across the UK.  The Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy provides a golden opportunity for both the public and private sector to pick up the pace of progress to net zero.

“There’s no doubt that the scale of the challenge is considerable.  These welcome measures – including the 2035 phase out of new gas boilers – will help consumers and business better prepare to change the way they heat their homes and buildings.

“Government must now support this valuable work with a clear delivery plan for consumers, businesses and local authorities. The time is now to accelerate low carbon heat and energy efficiency solutions, grow the number of green jobs across the UK, and further support the Government’s net zero ambitions”.

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