Government grant scheme 'falls flat' as King's Lynn pensioner struggles to find supplier
A couple of Lynn pensioners are in for a cold winter as they feel let down by a government scheme allegedly failing to deliver on its promise.
Kenneth Symonds, 72, and his wife have struggled to find a local supplier for the double glazing of doors and windows as part of the Green Homes Grant Scheme.
Local businesses have said the scheme is too complex and costly at a time when they are extremely busy anyway ahead of Christmas.
Under the scheme, homeowners are told they can apply for a voucher that funds up to two-thirds of the cost of hiring tradespeople to upgrade the energy performance of their homes up to a maximum contribution of £5,000.
Low income and vulnerable households will be eligible for a voucher covering up to 100 per cent of the cost of similar home improvements, up to £10,000.
But Mr Symonds said the government sponsored-list posted only one “local”supplier, which was based in Leeds.
He was then put in touch with a Gateshead-based company with suppliers in Cambridge who said they do not deal with doors and windows.
Mr Symonds said: “There is a big, shiny government scheme promising to help people like me on benefits but then it falls flat.
“There are too many hoops to jump through for companies when they are too busy. Why bother go through something very complex?”
The manager of a local glazing business, who did not wish to be named, said they have been too busy to manage the scheme with high demand expected until March.
He added: “There is a lack of information and I had to hunt for the right person to speak to about it. You get people ringing up asking if we are going to do it but we do not know how to. When you look into the costs involved we would have to put the prices up.
“We did look to give it a go but it is too complicated and it would be unfair to put the prices up to people who would not qualify for the grant. Why should you pay for the scheme that is set up to help people?”
Another anonymous company manager said they have not looked into the scheme because they have been too busy “playing catch-up” from the first lockdown.
North West Norfolk MP James Wild said a number of businesses serve the area that are registered on TrustMark, offering glazing.
He added: “I’ve encouraged local suppliers to sign up to the scheme and successfully lobbied for it to be extended by a year, which will hopefully encourage more to do so. I would also like to see measures to make the approvals process more efficient.
“Suppliers from outside the area can carry out work and some constituents have already applied for double glazing.”
The government is working with the TrustMark scheme providers and certification bodies to support installers to get certified as quickly as possible. This includes streamlining certification processes where possible.
A government spokesman added: “More than 1,220 installer companies are registered with TrustMark so far with more registering every day, including many businesses that operate nationally with substantial capacity to carry out work across the country.
"These cover a range of measures covered by the scheme, across all local authority areas.”
By extending the scheme until the end of March, the government hopes to ensure more people will be able to benefit, acknowledging Covid-restrictions may have proved problematic to some.
It has also stated it is working to eliminate barriers for installers, including halving the costs of accreditation for some PAS standards.
Those eligible for the scheme having at least one of the ‘primary measures’ installed, may be able to use Green Homes Grant to fund window or door work as a ‘secondary measure’ if it involves:
- upgrading from single glazing to double, triple or secondary glazing
- installing energy efficient doors where you are replacing doors installed prior to 2002