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Standing up for domestic retrofit suppliers in Greater Manchester

Tolu Omideyi explains how the Hub’s Green Technologies and Services advisors are helping local suppliers get fair access to domestic retrofit opportunities in Greater Manchester.

The last year has been challenging for the UK domestic retrofit sector. On the one hand, COVID-19 has thrust the job-creating potential of energy-efficient homes into the national conversation. There is a strong political consensus that green homes must play a key role in the economic recovery. There is also no getting around the fact that a huge, sustained investment in mass retrofit is an absolute necessity if the UK is to get anywhere near its legally binding net zero targets.

The only question is how this investment will be delivered and managed. The government’s flagship £2 billion Green Homes Grant voucher scheme was supposed to kickstart upgrades in over 600,000 homes and support 100,000 jobs, but unfortunately has failed to deliver on these expectations.

The way the scheme has been administered has been particularly hard on SMEs, some of whom have memories of the coalition government’s Green Deal scheme, which ended in 2015, and were wary of the Green Homes Grant to begin with. In February, one Greater Manchester installer told us:

“We gave over 500 quotations, but only four vouchers have been received. Some of our customers have been waiting over two months [for their voucher]. We have also heard of numerous installers not being paid for their work.”

The rest is history. Despite plenty of demand, the private homeowner part of the scheme was scrapped in March, with the vast majority of the £1.5 billion budget unspent.

Greater Manchester lifeline

However, the Local Authority Delivery (LAD) element of the Green Homes Grant – a separate pot of £500 million to roll out upgrades in the most energy inefficient and low-income homes – has been quietly moving forward. An additional £300 million has now been re-routed to this part of the scheme for 2021-22.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has secured over £10 million of this pot for the city region so far, and over £100 million in total when including other funding streams. The LAD programme funding will largely be focused on upgrading social housing properties with the full range energy efficiency and renewable energy measures eligible under the Green Homes Grant.

To ensure the funding delivers jobs and social value within Greater Manchester, we want as many local SMEs as possible to access to these opportunities.

Ensuring fair access for local suppliers

We know that many suppliers and installers have been bewildered by the homeowner element of the Green Homes Grant, or have decided not to participate in it at all. Our job is to stand up for local companies and make sure they have fair access and treatment via the LAD programme and any future schemes.

We have an open dialogue with E.ON Energy, who have been appointed by GMCA to lead the LAD programme in Greater Manchester, to identify suitable sub-contractors in our Low Carbon Network. Members of the Low Carbon Network are being kept up to date with the latest information and tender notifications, and we are liaising between interested SMEs and E.ON/GMCA with any questions or issues they have.

The Hub’s Green Technologies and Services team are also supporting Low Carbon Network members with tender submission reviews, tender workshops and one-to-one advice.

Get ready for future opportunities

The projects currently being delivered through local authorities are only the tip of the iceberg. There is a huge amount of pent-up demand for retrofit if it can be managed in the right way. We’ll be continuing to advocate for the role of local suppliers in our dialogue with decision-makers to unlock opportunities for the Greater Manchester supply chain.

If you’re a domestic installer or supplier of energy efficiency or renewable energy, join our Low Carbon Network today and get in touch with myself or one of my colleagues in the Green Technologies and Services team.

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