Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new, £2 billion Green Homes Grant as Britain embarks on “a green recovery” with green job creation and “concern for our environment at its heart”.
He also revealed measures to “catalyse the housing market and boost confidence” – and help young people find a job.
Green Homes Grant
Presenting his ‘Plan for Jobs’ to Parliament on 8 July, outlining how the government will boost job creation in the UK, the Chancellor announced that from September, homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for vouchers to make their homes more energy efficient and create local jobs.
The grants will cover at least two thirds of the cost, up to £5,000 per household with vouchers covering the full cost – up to £10,000 for low-income households.
On top of the £2 billion voucher scheme, the Chancellor will also release £1 billion of funding to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings alongside a £50 million fund “to pilot the right approach to decarbonise social housing”.
As well as supporting around 140,000 green jobs, the aim of the measures is to:
- make over 650,000 homes more energy efficient
- save households up to £300 a year on their bills
- cut carbon by more than half a mega tonne per year, equivalent to taking 270,000 cars off the road
Stamp duty cut
Highlighting housing as one of the most important sectors for job creation, Sunak has remedied the ailing housing market by cutting stamp duty – temporarily but with immediate effect – increasing the threshold from transactions below £125,000 to half a million pounds until 31st March 2021.
He said: “We need people feeling confident – confident to buy, sell, renovate, move and improve. That will drive growth. That will create jobs.”
With under-25s two and a half times as likely to work in a sector that has been closed, the Chancellor announced the government’s Kickstart Scheme: “A new programme to give hundreds of thousands of young people, in every region and nation of Britain, the best possible chance of getting on and getting a job.”
The Kickstart Scheme will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16 to 24-year-old at risk of long-term unemployment “plus an amount to cover overheads” if conditions are met.
Sunak said that employers can apply to be part of the scheme from next month (August), with the first Kickstarters in their new jobs this autumn, adding: “I urge every employer, big or small, national or local, to hire as many Kickstarters as possible.”
In a boost to traineeships, the government will pay employers £1,000 to take on new trainees, with triple the number of places. It has also pledged to support 18-19-year olds leaving school or college to find work in high-demand sectors like engineering, construction and social care and provide £100 million to create more places on Level 2 and 3 courses, as well as funding careers advice.
Sunak also pledged to expand universal skills by expanding sector-based work academies – tripling the number of places and paying employers to create new apprenticeships with a payment of £2,000 per apprentice.
The Chancellor also pledged a bonus for businesses to hire apprentices aged 25 and over, with a payment of £1,500.
In his final summing up of the Plan for Jobs, the Chancellor said: “Governments, much less people, rarely get to choose the moments that define them. What choice there is comes in how we respond… We will not be defined by this crisis, but by our response to it…”
Responding the Chancellor’s plan, Simon Ayers, CEO of TrustMark, said: “We welcome the Chancellor’s support for homeowners to carry out insulation and other retrofit measures around their homes. The only way to have a realistic chance of meeting the government’s carbon neutral 2050 deadline is to improve the energy efficiency of the homes we already have, so this investment from the government is an important step in achieving that goal and starting the development of a long-term plan to retrofit a high percentage of the UK’s homes.
“The focus on green recovery and creating jobs, apprenticeships and momentum through other tax related areas is also good news for the construction industry, particularly small to medium sized house building and trades businesses…
“Consumer confidence is key in getting the construction industry back up and running to full capacity, enabling it to make its full contribution to the country’s economic recovery…”
Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) called for detail and clarification of how the Green Homes Grant scheme will be implemented so we can “avoid the mistakes of previous retrofit schemes”. She explained: “The Chancellor has recognised the huge potential of energy efficiency to create jobs, and the money announced today for upgrading buildings is a much needed first step.
“In respect of homes, we urgently need more detail on how the Green Homes Grant scheme will be implemented. Done well it has the potential to kickstart a retrofit revolution across the country, but, done badly, this could cause more harm than good to people’s homes and to the industry. It’s crucial to avoid the mistakes of previous retrofit schemes by ensuring that all measures and installers under the scheme are properly accredited and deliver real improvements.”
View the ‘Plan for Jobs’ statement here