Tackling climate change is no easy feat. But I firmly believe that the way to achieve real, long-term change is not by gluing yourself to buildings or by disrupting people’s lives, as some activists choose to do. There are ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions whilst growing our economy - and in doing so benefit everyone in the short, as well as long term.
This philosophy is at the heart of a new Government plan that my Department launched last week – a major £3 billion scheme to cut carbon emissions from homes, schools and hospitals across England, whilst supporting tens and thousands of green jobs.
Housing accounts for around 15% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions because we use oil and gas for heating and hot water. If we are to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, this figure needs to come down drastically.
However, it should not – quite literally – cost the earth to keep ourselves warm and safe over winter.
That’s why hundreds of thousands of homeowners and landlords across the country will be able to apply for vouchers to improve the energy efficiency of their homes through our Green Homes Grant scheme.
These vouchers will cover up to £5,000 towards the cost of installing low-carbon heating improvements, and up to £10,000 for eligible homeowners on income-based or disability benefits.
The eligible improvements are split into two categories: primary and secondary. Primary improvements include measures like wall, floor and roof insulation, and low-carbon heating like heat pumps or solar thermal. Secondary improvements include the installation of double or triple glazing when replacing single glazing. Depending on the improvements installed, these measures could save the average homeowner up to £600 a year on energy bills, and help to save the environment.
Importantly, this scheme also creates potential new work for local builders, installers, plumbers and electricians in Reading, and will support tens of thousands of jobs across the country.
We know that homeowners want to be sure the tradespeople carrying out work in their homes can be relied on, which is why all work completed under the scheme must be carried out by TrustMark-registered tradespeople – the Government-backed gold standard of trading.
Everyone working under the scheme will be vetted and will have signed up to a strict code of conduct that includes the latest guidelines on working safely through the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is no time to waste. The scheme is now live, and I’m encouraging homeowners and landlords across Reading to apply for improvements to keep their homes warm and reduce their energy bills this winter.
The Government is determined to build back better and greener. The Green Homes Grant Scheme will help us improve the lives of thousands of people across the country, while also ensuring that our homes are cleaner, greener and cheaper than ever before.
More information about the Green Homes Grant Scheme, including details of how to apply, are available on the Government’s Simple Energy Advice website: https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/pages/green-homes-grant