The Changing Face Of Double Glazing Grants In 2023

When it comes to energy efficiency and double glazing grants there are signs that significant change COULD be on the horizon.

We moved into 2023 following significant political uncertainty and upheaval and in the midst of an energy crisis the likes of which had not been seen before. The Government had to take short term action but the drive to net zero and the targets still remain so they HAVE to ensure greater focus on this whilst obviously keepin a firm reign on the purse strings … and this COULD be good news for the energy efficiency industry and double glazing.

So … what’s happening?

The Skidmore Report – Mission Zero

The UK Government late last year, (the very short Liz Truss era) , commissioned an independent review of Net Zero and appointed former Energy Minister Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP to deliver a report.  They wanted to assess the best way for the UK to reach its legally binding 2050 climate target while maximising opportunities for economic growth, business prosperity, innovation and social sustainability.

The result was the publication of Mission Zero – Net Zero Review in January 2023. The review didn’t pull punches and made129 recommendations covering areas including the greater role that business can be supported to play, making better use of infrastructure and delivering more energy efficient homes.

Without going into specific detail at summarised that the government’s climate policies need to be more consistent and ambitious and that the UK is “falling behind” on some targets and needs a “new approach”, Mr Skidmore also urged ministers to grasp the ‘historic opportunity’, highlighting how the government’s Net Zero Strategy offers the right direction, and the right policies to do so.

Government Departmental Restructure

Mr Skidmore’s review was published in mid-January 2023. Just a month or so later the Governmebt announced a major restructure.

On Tuesday 7th Feb 2023 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed his decision to split up the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and create a new Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero dedicated to all thing’s energy related.

Potentially this means a much greater focus on delivering to 2050 net zero targets of which domestic energy efficiency is a major target area.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will provide dedicated leadership focused on delivering security of energy supply, ensuring properly functioning markets, greater energy efficiency and seizing the opportunities of net zero to lead the world in new green industries.

This year, the department will focus on easing the cost of living and delivering financial security by bringing down energy bills and keeping them down – better insulating consumers from external impacts. Longer term objectives include ensuring properly functioning energy markets, coordinating net zero objectives across government and bringing external delivery expertise to bear on its portfolio of major projects.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is focused on the energy portfolio from the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Government Taskforce

Shortly after the announcement of the new Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero on Tuesday 21st February 2023 the Government announced that a new Energy Efficiency Taskforce was to be set up the  to “support a step change in the reduction of energy demand through accelerated delivery of energy efficiency across the economy“. In the Governments own words:

The taskforce will advise and work with ministers on delivery of the government’s ambition to reduce total UK energy demand by 15% from 2021 levels by 2030, across domestic and commercial buildings and industrial processes. The taskforce will have a particular focus on the role of the private sector and the stimulation of investment. Its priority areas of focus will include:

  • stimulating the supply chain to address and increase investment, reduce skills gaps, accelerate pathways to accreditation, improve product manufacturing capability, and increase the wider availability of materials required to deliver high quality upgrades at pace
  • identifying barriers and opportunities in existing market and regulatory frameworks to delivering the demand reduction ambition in a way that works for business, consumers and society in order to inform policy decisions
  • increasing consumer, public sector, and business engagement in the delivery of existing and new initiatives on energy efficiency and clean heat. This may include addressing the lack of consumer take-up or behavioural change and high attrition rates
  • working with the private sector to increase the availability of green finance linked to installation standards and quality
  • tackling different installation challenges and embedding the need for standards across differently funded markets (considering recent tragedies highlighting the risks in domestic settings)
  • working with DESNZ to gather, monitor and respond to data that shows progress towards the 15% demand reduction target

What was particularly interesting was the fact that this Taskforce was t be co-chaired by the experience Lord Callanan and Alison Rose DBE who is the CEO of NatWest and hence a financial expert rather than a politician.

​​Powering Up Britain

The latest policy paper comes partly as a response to the Skidmore Review and was published on 30th March 2023 under the heading Powering Up Britain. It sets out the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s approach to energy security and net zero, and acts as an introduction to Powering Up Britain: Energy Security Plan, and Powering Up Britain: Net Zero Growth Plan, both of which are complementary and should be read alongside each other.

Within this paper comes the news that ECO4 and ECO Plus (the main funding grants available for domestic energy efficiency measures) are to be rebranded under the simple name The Great British Insulation Scheme or GBIS for short. 

Energy Efficiency Grants – Industry Frustrations

One of the major frustrations from tthe wider energy efficiency industry has been a lack of confidence in and an inconsistancy of Government grant funding initiatives. Whilst it’s been difficult to criticise their intentions the consistancy has not been there. Industry has geared up, structured and invested heavily to support these various initiatives over recent years only to see the initiatives shelved with little notice or regard to the effect on the industry … the Green Deal, Green Homes Grants etc.

And then there’s been the delays which have now come to be expected – even the latest ECO Plus initiative was supposed to launch in April 2023 yet we haven’t even seen the results of the consultation as yet (March 2023) and so this is clearly not going to kick off until the summer.

Double Glazing Grants – Industry Frustrations

Most Government energy efficiency grants do contain financial support towards the installation of double glazing . However, this is pretty much restricted to an upgrade from single glazed windows and doors. It doesn’t take into account any form of upgrade from existing old double glazing to new, highly efficient windows and doors – which can represent a significant energy efficiency improvement

And that’s what the industry is lobbying hard to change. It’s recognised boilers should be upgraded, insulation should be topped up but there’s nothing to say that replacing dated double glazing with new, more efficient units will make a difference and hence there’s no funding to support this.

In fact this has been officially recognised and highlighted within the Government response to the recent ECO / GBIS consultations where it stated:

  • Draught proofing, double glazing, and ventilation measures were the most common measures highlighted by respondents as missing from the Scheme.
  • The most popular suggestion was to allow further insulation measures such as double glazing or draught proofing, to provide suppliersand households with the maximum level of flexibility

Double Glazing Grants – VAT Situation

Currently VAT is payable on double glazing at the standard rate of 20%. On 15th March the Government launched a call for evidence: VAT energy saving materials relief – improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. This presents a chance for the collective double glazing industry to get double glazing on the zero rated list!

Deadline is 31st May so the pressure’s on!

Double Glazing Grants – Optimism Perhaps?

So … let’s look at what’s happening:

  • a new department focussed on energy efficiency and delivering net zero.
  • a new Taskforce “responding to industry’s call for long-term funding certainty to help strengthen UK supply chains”
  • additional funding with the Government stating that it would be making £6 billion of government funding available from 2025 in addition to the £6.6 billion allocated this Parliament – taking the total to £12.6 billion this decade.
  • double glazing industry focussed on the recognition of double glazing upgrades and getting them recognised as an energy efficiency measure that should be financially supported

The Government have officially recognised the fact that draught proofing, double glazing, and ventilation measures were the most common measures highlighted by respondents as missing from the ECO / GBIS schemes and that the most popular suggestion was to allow further insulation measures such as double glazing or draught proofing, to provide suppliersand households with the maximum level of flexibility.

There is also a collective industry push to having double glazing listed on VAT energy saving materials list.

Perhaps change is on the horizon and maybe, in respect of double glazing grants in the UK, there’s reason to be a little more optimistic!