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UK extends £3 billion green homes grant amid application pile-up

London

AMID the fanfare of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's green industrial 10-point plan on Wednesday was a tacit admission that some climate-friendly policies are harder to roll out than others.

The UK government extended by a year its £3 billion (S$5.34 billion) Green Homes Grant as government officials struggle to work through tens of thousands of applications piling up.

Two months after the programme started, the government has issued only 267 vouchers, said a spokesperson for the prime minister's office in London.

Officials in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are working through the 42,000 applications that they have received.

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"To meet the significant and welcome demand from the public, that means the government needs to speed up the issuing of vouchers urgently," said Lucy Symonds-Jones, a spokesperson for the Association for Decentralised Energy, which represents home insulation companies.

Sealing up drafty homes is part of the UK's effort to meet a goal of net-zero carbon emissions while helping the economy recovery from the pandemic.

The Green Homes Grant began in September, promising homeowners as much as £5,000 for work such as fitting insulation. Those on low incomes can get as much as £10,000. It had been due to end in March next year, but slow progress means it has now been extended to March 2022.

It is the second time the government has struggled to make a success of a domestic home insulation programme. In 2015, ministers abandoned the Green Deal, which attached the cost of loan repayments onto a property after low take-up. BLOOMBERG

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