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Is the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund about to return?

Homeowners looking to add energy-efficient improvements to their property have received a boost, with one of the government's flagship subsidy schemes set to be reintroduced.

Energy secretary Ed Davey announced at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow yesterday (October 7th) that the coalition was planning to invest £100 million to bring back the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF).

The GDHIF was originally created to support the Green Deal, a finance scheme that offered loans to individuals looking to carry out work on their dwellings to reduce their power consumption.

However, after poor take-up, the GDHIF was launched - encouraging people to spend money on such improvements by giving them up to £7,600 cashback on their investments if they implemented defined measures like solid wall insulation and new boilers.

The new scheme proved to be a hit, to the point where it had to be cancelled after less than two months because it had run out of funding.

Since then, the government has admitted the original Green Deal "failed", raising the question of whether or not we would see the return of the GDHIF, or at least a similar initiative in its place.

The appears to have now been answered following Mr Davey's speech, although it is not yet clear when applications will be opened.

"We’re managing to show that you can go green and you can have low energy bills. The announcement that I’m making of £100 million to help people cut energy emissions and have warmer homes, and indeed cut carbon emissions I think will be really welcome," he told ITV's This Morning.

Nevertheless, UK Green Building Council director of policy and communications John Alker said the move would only serve as a temporary solution, even though Mr Davey "should be applauded" for securing the cash in the first place.

He called for an end to "stop-start" incentives, before adding: "This funding could see us through to the General Election, but what happens after that? All parties must recognise that home energy efficiency is an infrastructure priority."

Another question that remains is how long the £100 million will last, with the previous round of cashback funding running out much quicker than leaders anticipated.

While the full extent of the details have yet to be confirmed, there is no denying that this is a step in the right direction - not only for homeowners, but also for the industries that support energy efficiency.

A recent report by Cambridge Econometrics forecast that UK GDP would significantly benefit from an improved focus on this area. The body predicted that if the country could reduce its power consumption by 40 per cent by 2030,  £62 billion would be added to the economy. Similarly, it suggested the move could also help to create 40,000 new jobs.

Meanwhile, another cashback initiative was announced in Scotland at the start of October, which will specifically target council homes and social landlords. Under the Green Homes Cashback Scheme, £4.5 million is being made available to upgrade properties.

Posted by Helen Hughes


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