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Vaillant Welcomes Summer Statement Green Homes Funding but Warns Skills Gap Needs to be Addressed

In response to the Chancellor’s Summer Statement which included £50m of funding to pilot innovative energy-saving measures for social housing, as well as a £2billion Green Homes Grant to help private homeowners improve their properties’ energy efficiency, Mark Wilkins, head of training and external affairs at Vaillant, comments:

“We broadly welcome the Government’s proposed Green Homes Grant to stimulate market demand for solutions that will improve the energy efficiency of our homes and help achieve the country’s net zero target. Many installers, guided by government recommendations, have returned safely to work, and the extra funding announced will hopefully stimulate greater demand for their services.

“However, how well the Government’s schemes will work will depend on the details which we are still waiting for. These need to be published quickly so that the industry and homeowners understand the criteria and application process. Installers will also need to know how they can get registered onto the scheme so that they can be found and chosen by potential customers.

“The variety in the UK’s housing stock means that there is simply no silver bullet that will solve the challenge of how to decarbonise our homes. However, we’ve always advocated improvements to the fabric of our buildings to minimise the amount of heat needed in the first place, whatever heating system is employed. Once energy demand is reduced through good insulation, we are confident that heat pumps can be used in many private and social homes to provide a low carbon and cost effective solution. Indeed, we have seen many housing providers successfully implement heat pumps for their buildings, resulting in lower carbon emissions and heating bills at the same time.

“This pot of funding from the Government is just one of the signs that financing for ‘green’ initiatives is becoming more widely available; many banks now support homeowners with making energy efficiency improvements to their homes, whether that’s through preferential ‘green’ mortgage rates or financing packages to help with the upfront cost of purchasing renewable systems such as heat pumps.

“But a rise in demand supported by the wider availability of funding – whether from the Government or the financial market - needs to be matched by an increase in the number of installers with the right skills to design and install low carbon heating solutions to a high standard. Yes, the Chancellor has committed extra payment to businesses for apprenticeships and Vaillant offers industry training on how to recruit apprentices as part of its online business clinics. But these initiatives alone are not sufficient to train up enough qualified installers in the long term. The Government needs to do more to encourage people to get training, and support the initiatives undertaken by Vaillant and others in the industry. Otherwise, the ability to roll out energy-saving measures and low-carbon heating technologies in sufficient quantity would be severely limited by the shortage of designers and installers on the ground.”