Better funding options needed for Boiler Upgrade Scheme

Following evidence provided by Propertymark to the House of Lords Built Environment Committee Inquiry into the UK Government’s scheme, it has been concluded that it is failing to deliver with disappointingly low levels of take-up of grants.

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Since launching its inquiry in May 2022, the Committee found public awareness of low-carbon heating systems is very limited with the promotion of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme inadequate. Upfront costs are also too high for many households, even with the help of the grant, making it impossible for low-income households to benefit.

As of 31 January 2023, 9,889 vouchers have been issued worth a total value of £49,730,000. The Committee's position on the take-up rate is based on the total value of vouchers issued. By the same date, 7,641 vouchers have been redeemed, meaning there have been 7,641 installations under the scheme. £150mn has been allocated for each year of the scheme and £450mn is available in total.

Propertymark member evidence

In evidence to the Committee, we outlined that 48% of Propertymark members were unaware of the scheme’s existence and those that were aware of the scheme did not apply for a grant due to the amount of funding available per house compared to the overall cost of retrofitting.

Furthermore, in some types of residential properties, there are significant additional costs or restrictions to installing heat pumps. Properties in coastal areas and flats were the most commonly cited, as there is less room to retrofit flats this way and the salty air from the coast can cause erosion in heat pumps.

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30 Sep 2022
Propertymark warns of limited effectiveness of low carbon funding programmes

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme was introduced by the UK Government for England and Wales in March 2022; however, evidence shows it should be replaced with an overarching funding programme that covers a larger list of government-approved retrofitting options and help landlords and homeowners move to low-carbon heating systems.

Greater clarity to industry and consumers

The Committee’s recommendations include calls for the UK Government to provide greater clarity to industry and consumers on feasible options for low-carbon home heating through a consistent policy framework, public communications, and householder advice.

It also calls for the UK Government to correct the Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) methodology so that certificates properly reward households for making the switch to low-carbon heating and flawed EPC recommendations cease being a barrier to Boiler Upgrade Scheme eligibility.

It’s not surprising that the Inquiry has recognised many of the issues our members have highlighted, such as the upfront costs of installing heat-pumps and very low public awareness of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Agents, landlords and homeowners require significantly more information and financial support in order to cover heating upgrades and retrofitting costs, which remains a significant barrier to improving energy efficiency.

It’s vital that the Committee’s recommendations to provide a wider range of feasible options through a consistent policy framework are now prioritised by the UK Government and lead to better targeted support being made available.

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Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark