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Lack of skilled workforce to blame for £22 million greener homes underspend by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

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A lack of qualified contractors has been blamed for a £22 million underspend by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority on helping homes become more green.

News that the Combined Authority led by Mayor Dr Nik Johnson is to repair the millions underspent back to the government came following a question posed at the recent full meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council by Conservative Councillor Jonas King.

Council leader Councillor Lucy Nethsingha, who represents the county council on the Combined Authority, explained it had not been possible to spend all the Government funding given under the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Phase 2(LAD) for a number of reasons.

Councillor Jonas King. (56672275)
Councillor Jonas King. (56672275)

These included the fact there was limited time given for the money to be used as it was allocated in April 2021 and must be spent by the end of June this year.

But the main reason was that there was "insufficient people trained to do the work".

As a result there was and underspend of £22 million and the Combined Authority has also started training so there is a skilled workforce and has put in a bid for the third phase of the scheme.

Councillor Lucy Nethsingha.
Councillor Lucy Nethsingha.

After the meeting the meeting a spokesperson for the Combined Authority explained it together with the Greater South Eastern Energy Net Zero Hub had received £78.3million in phase 2 of LAD - the total amount spent will not been known until the closure of the programme at the end of June.

However, in March 2022 15,500 homes had applied to the scheme for energy-saving improvements of up to £10,000 a household - 460 measure had been installed and a further 2,551 had been approved.

The spokersperson added: "Despite the challenges that the last two years have presented, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, alongside the Greater South East Net Zero Hub (Net Zero Hub), formerly known as the Greater South East Energy Hub, have 5,100 homes signed up for energy-saving improvements worth more than £10,000 a household.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor Dr. Nik Johnson. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor Dr. Nik Johnson. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2021.

"There have simply not been enough surveyors, installers, and other suppliers able to do the work to the high standards the scheme demands.

"This is partly an effect of the Covid pandemic, and partly shows a wider need to grow this market.

"As a result, we have not been able to spend the money as quickly as we, and the government aimed for when the scheme was set up. We will continue to contract for the work as fast as the supply chain issues allow and all the households currently expecting energy efficiency measures under the scheme will get them.

"Delivery of the retrofitting measures will be continued up to the deadline of the scheme in June and will be superseded by the Sustainable Warmth Programme.

"The Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery scheme, Phase 2 (LAD 2) was designed to help reduce energy poverty by allocating £500m of funding to local energy hubs. The Net Zero Hub, obtained this funding in 2021 to provide grants for low income and low energy performance homes."

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