Poor performance figures for numbers of heat pump installations achieved under the government’s subsidised Boiler Upgrade Scheme have drawn scathing criticism from trade body the Energy & Utilities Alliance.
As reporting overseers of the first ten months of the government’s high-profile drive to equip English & Welsh homes with heat pumps in place of carbon-emitting boilers, Ofgem revealed this week that under 10,000 households, – fewer than a third of the 30,000 budgeted to benefit – had received their £5,000 subsidy voucher.
From the £150 million budgeted for the first of the BUS’s three years, only £60.3 million worth of vouchers had been issued by April, Ofgem’s numbers show. The scheme’s unspent £90 million first year balance will now be returned to the Treasury.
“It takes a certain type of genius to fail to give away £150 million of taxpayers’ money, said Mike Foster, CEO of the EUA.
“This wretched scheme looks like it has done just that”.
“When will the Government actually listen to the people, the majority of whom simply cannot afford a heat pump, subsidised or not?”
“The scheme is simply a taxpayer handout to those who don’t need it, to keep the secretly funded heat pump lobby quiet,” Foster alleged.
“It does little for carbon saving compared to investment on insulation. It does not help people keep bills low. It takes from the poor to give to the wealthy and it is an embarrassment of a policy.”
“More taxpayer-subsidised heat pumps have probably been fitted in Cornish holiday homes than the whole of Britain’s second city, Birmingham”, Foster speculated. “That is shameful.
“What makes this profligacy even worse is that insulation measures could save more carbon, keep bills down and provide a sound economic investment for the Treasury.”
“With people still hurting from high energy bills, insulating the homes of those most in need should be the priority”, Foster went on, ”not giving hard-earned taxpayers’ cash to those who were going to buy a heat pump anyway. It’s utterly wasteful.”
The EUA chief’s vituperation today adds to the chorus of sustained criticism levelled at the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, brought in during Kwasi Kwarteng’s tenure atop the energy ministry.
Legislators, trade bodies & learned observers have weighed in.
In July, three months after the BUS’s launch, the Ground Source Heat Pumps Association reported enquiries for pump installations had fallen, not risen.
As recently as February the House of Lords environment committee warned the BUS was under-performing, alleging poor publicity for it from government, a shortage of trained installers and too little independent advice for householders. The Lords also asked for the scheme’s unspent first year allocation to be rolled over into its second year.