Analysis: Northern England to bear brunt of cuts to Green Homes Grant

Published:31 March 2021

The government scrapping its flagship policy to insulate England’s homes will disproportionality impact northern regions, with 223,000 homes set to miss out, new analysis of government data shows.

The North West, North East and Yorkshire & the Humber account for more than 40% of applications to the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme, which the government said on Saturday will close to new applications on 31 March. This compares with just 20% of applications in London and the South East.

These regions along with the Midlands – where another 112,300 homes are set to miss out – are also the regions that have some of the highest rates of fuel poverty [3] and greatest proportion of homes below Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C, a target that the government has set for all homes to reach by 2035.

Application rates were highest in the North West (7.2 per 1000 households) and Yorkshire and the Humber (7.3 per 1000 households), compared with just 2.6 per 1000 households in London and 3 per 1000 in the South East. The England-wide average is 4.5 applications per 1000 households, government data shows.

The Green Homes Grant scheme was expected to support 100,000 jobs all over the country, a target that will not be met following the decision to scrap the programme. This data shows these ‘missing’ jobs will be largely concentrated in the North and Midlands.

The ‘levelling-up’ of these regions was a key promise in the Conservative Party 2019 election manifesto, which likely played a crucial role in securing new Conservative seats in these regions.


Table 1. The proportion of voucher applications in the English regions, homes set to miss out if just 10% of 600,000 home target is achieved, unemployment rates (data from nomis), homes below the Government’s EPC band C target (BEIS data) and households in fuel poverty (BEIS data).
RegionProportion of voucher applicationsHomes set to miss outHomes upgraded if full schemeUnemploymentHomes below EPC CHouseholds in fuel poverty
North East4%21,60024,0009.6%61%9.5%
North West21%115,020127,8008.4%64%12.1%
Yorkshire and The Humber16%86,40096,0007.9%66%10.1%
East Midlands9%49,14054,6006.9%63%10.9%
West Midlands12%63,18070,2008.9%65%11.4%
East9%49,14054,6006.4%59%9.4%
London9%47,52052,8008.4%56%11.4%
South East11%58,32064,8006.2%59%7.9%
South West9%49,14054,6005.6%61%9.4%

The cancellation of the Green Homes Grant means that only 10% of the original 600,000 home target will be met, leaving 540,000 families unable to benefit from lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint at home.

Commenting, Jess Ralston, Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said:

“Pulling the plug on the green homes grant sends the wrong message to many new Conservative voters in the North and Midlands who will unfortunately bear the brunt of broken promises to fix up millions of leaky homes.

“Local communities will also be harmed by the inability to deliver thousands of new skilled jobs, a core tenet of the government’s aims to level up the nation at the same time as bringing emissions down to net zero.

“There is no way to get to net zero without tackling emissions from our homes. Public participation is essential in reaching this goal and so far the government is doing its best to make life difficult for families keen to take action on their carbon footprints.”

Brian Robson, Executive Director at the Northern Housing Consortium, which represents 140 councils and housing associations across the North, said:

“The North’s homes are older and colder than the national average, so it’s only natural that there were high levels of interest in the Green Homes Grant from our regions.

“The North of England needs an end to stop-start policy on home upgrades: only a long-term commitment to decarbonise our homes will enable us to build the skills and supply chains necessary to undertake this work at scale. If we get that commitment from government, we can create thousands of good green jobs, delivering not just on net zero, but levelling-up too.”

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