Mike Parker, Chairman of SeSaME, writes…
“GREEN, Green Grass of Home,” a song popularised by Tom Jones is steeped in nostalgia for another time and place. Nostalgia smothering the final painful story of lying buried beneath that grass, in the shade of an old oak tree.
Global warming needs the greening of homes. Living sustainably is going to be essential if we are to live in harmony with that green grass and enjoy a fulfilling life, rather than buried deep beneath the shade as the song finally laments.
So why aren’t I cheering too loud at the arrival of the government Green Homes Grant for homeowners or residential landlords? You can apply for a £5,000 Green Homes Grant Voucher covering two-thirds of the cost of installing energy efficient improvements to your home. Those eligible for the low income support scheme get £10,000, covering 100% of the cost.
Downsides are you must redeem the voucher and ensure improvements are completed by 31 March 2021 – just 5 months. It will depend on a resident’s situation more than their house’s retrofitting needs, so many homes in need of extensive improvement could easily miss out. It’s better than nothing, so go for it, though afterwards we will still be a long way from home.
Our experience in Sedgeberrow, five long years ago when we managed to access £125,000 in grants for the external insulation of 18 homes, is a reminder that lessons from even those grants revealed unseen twists.
We did it the “Wychavon way” as I like to call it. An effective foursome: the Warmer Worcestershire project; Wychavon District Council Housing with ActonEnergy advising; SeSaME co-ordinating local volunteers and informing villagers. Even then the funding was limited, ending well before meeting what is needed. Whilst national conditions applied regrettably excluded a local work force.
What will happen to sustaining our green grass of home after April 1st? Experience, logic and a business-like approach has shown that the most effective planning needs ring fenced, district based annual budgets and local builders supervised by an established team, working with residents to target identified need. It’s a task for the long-haul.