• anujasaunders5

Computer says No

So, as the weather gets colder, the need to install insulation and to reduce the heat loss from the building becomes even more pressing. The original Green Homes Grant scheme was launched in September to offer homeowners the opportunity to make improvements to the energy efficiency of their homes, as well as give a boost to local contractors by carrying out the work. As frost hardens on the roof (and then promptly melts again due to the terrible thermal performance of the building), our quest to unlock one of these grants continues.

The original quote was obtained in October and duly submitted. It contained detailed information about the size of area covered, the materials and installation time. It came from a TrustMark accredited contractor, as per the requirements, who was the only one available to quote within 120 miles. On Christmas Eve we received what seemed like a standardized email telling us that the quote we had put forward for loft insulation was being queried. It was, at £600, “above average”, and would I please get further and better particulars from the contractor – in writing. And furthermore, if I would like to get another quote, then that would be good too.

Now, we fully understand the need to be prudent with taxpayers’ money. And maybe the strain of lockdown has made us cynical, but it seems that the way in which the GHG scheme is being administered is designed to make people give up.

Mr Green, the contractor agrees. He sent through a short-written response for us to send on, and he shared his frustration. He told me that “These responses are driving us round the bend”. They are clearly adding to his workload, and therefore increasing his costs. Furthermore, the massive delays between having done the work to give the quote and converting this to money in the bank is almost unsustainable. He mentioned that he was trying to reach out to a senior person in the Grants team to see what can be done.

Mr Green, and no doubt many similar contactors are quite right to feel aggrieved. They are not fly- by- night operators, they are established businesses who have gone through the accreditation processes to become TrustMark suppliers. Having established a relationship with the customer, that trust is put into doubt, as the customer has been told that they might be being overcharged. We are fairly sure that there are not many businesses who would want their customer list turned over to such helpful communications. We also felt that the general statement that the quote was “above average” was a vague and unjustified assertion. The Farmhouse is located in the Thames Valley, where the cost of property and related services are almost certainly above any national average. Our request to see the data tables upon which this assertion was based has yet to be answered.

So, we have gone back to the Green Homes Grant people with Mr Green’s reply. And now we wait, and hope that we might see our insulation voucher issued before July. We have also put in an enquiry with the relevant government department to see how many vouchers have been issued so far. Let's wait and see what we get first, the answer to that question or our voucher!

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