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Wed September 23 2020

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Green grants scheme heading for the skids without Trustmark take-up

13 Aug There is mounting concern that a meagre 0.5% of UK construction companies are eligible to carry out work for the government’s Green Home Grants scheme.

The Trustmark logo
The Trustmark logo

Business secretary Alok Sharma has made it a condition of the scheme that any tradesperson or business taking on home improvement jobs for the scheme must be registered with the government-backed Trustmark kite scheme. Any homeowner that uses an installer or contractor that is not Trustmark registered will not get their government grant.

Under the Green Homes Grant scheme, homeowners in England will be able to apply for vouchers worth up to two thirds of the cost of hiring tradespeople to improve the energy efficiency of their home – the maximum contribution will be £5,000, or for those on lower incomes a 100% grant up to £10,000 will be available for certain work. The vouchers will be issued from the end of September.

The government has allocated £2bn to the scheme and is expecting more than 600,000 homes across England to take advantage.

However, who will do all of this work? Hardly anyone is Trustmark registered and there is little more than six weeks to go before the scheme goes live. And it needs to hit the ground running because the installation work must be done by the end of March 2021.

There are roughly 343,000 construction businesses in the UK1; as of 3rd August, when details of the Green Home Grants scheme were revealed, just 700 businesses were Trustmark registered. A further 1,000 have applied since then. Assuming that all those applications are approved, at least 99.5% of businesses in the industry are still therefore set to miss out unless they register.

Alok Sharma is now urging tradespeople to register for Trustmark to rescue his flagship scheme.

Business and energy secretary Alok Sharma said yesterday: “The Green Homes Grant scheme will not only cut emissions and make a serious dent in people’s energy bills, but will create new work for many thousands of talented builders, plumbers and other tradespeople right across the UK. I’m urging businesses to sign up and get Trustmark accredited so they can crack on and offer their services to households across the country when the scheme opens.”

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He said that for those who already have membership of a recognised trade body such as the Federation of Master Builders, the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency and Building Engineering Services Association, or who are already certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, Trustmark registration can take just five working days.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), which thinks no builder should be allowed to trade without a government licence (a scheme on which it is still working with government), supports the government’s requirement for Trustmark registration for the Green Home Grants scheme.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “In a world where anyone can set themselves up as a builder, I welcome the government’s emphasis on accreditation for tradespeople and quality assurance as part of the Green Homes Grants scheme. This will help ensure that only high quality work is carried out, and consumers are protected. The FMB is a provider of Trustmark, and I believe that a recognisable scheme such as this will give homeowners the confidence they need to carry out building works and help boost jobs in the industry."

However, even FMB members seem unexcited by Trustmark and most have not bothered to register. It has 8,000 members – eight times as many as Trustmark.

Trustmark chief executive Simon Ayers said: “Trustmark is working hard with their scheme providers to increase the numbers of Trustmark registered businesses so we can meet the demand of the Green Homes Grant scheme. Businesses can join and select a scheme provider that can support their application.”

1. Source: House of Commons Library briefing paper Number 01432 (16th December 2019) – Construction industry: statistics and policy

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