The UK government has unveiled a new scheme that it says plans to incentivise people to install low-carbon heating systems in a “simple, fair and cheap way”.
This means that, from April next year, homeowners in England and Wales will be able to apply for grants of £5,000 to replace their old gas boiler and install more efficient, low-carbon heating systems, such as heat pumps that do not emit carbon when used.
This will be through a new £450 million three-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
The new scheme is part of the more than £3.9 billion funding announced yesterday and allocated to cutting carbon from heating and buildings, which will be used to help reach the government’s target for all new heating system installations to be low-carbon by 2035.
The government says that these £5,000 grants mean that people choosing to install a heat pump will pay a similar amount as if they were installing a traditional gas boiler.
At present, heat pumps cost an average of £10,000 to be installed, but the government said it would work with industry to make them same cost to buy and run as fossil fuel units by 2030.
Heat pumps work by using a refrigerant to absorb natural heat found in the air, ground or water, which is then transferred to the cold water system in a house to heat it up and pump it to radiators and hot taps, and as the pumps also run on electricity, this can be sourced in more eco-friendly ways, including the use of solar panels.
There are currently around 30,000 heat pumps installed in the UK each year, but the government wants to significantly increase this to 600,000 per year by 2028.
The grants for heat pumps will be available for households in England and Wales, as part of the UK-wide heat and buildings strategy.
It was previously thought that millions of homeowners could face fines of up to £10,000 if they did not replaces their gas boilers with a low-carbon solution, but the government has this week insisted that “no one will be forced to remove their existing fossil fuel boilers” as this transition will take place over the next 14 years to allow households to gradually move away the boilers in an “affordable, practical and fair way”.
The government says this transition will enable homeowners to “easily make green choices” when the time comes to replace their old boiler.
Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the new grants will “help homeowners make the switch sooner, without costing them extra, so that going green is the better choice when their boiler needs an upgrade”, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme has been met with some criticism from opposition parties and industry experts.
Labour’s shadow Business Secretary, Ed Miliband, called it a “meagre, unambitious and wholly inadequate response” as millions of families face an energy and cost of living crisis, while Green MP Caroline Lucas agreed that the voluntary aspect of the scheme was concerning, and told Sky News that “there simply isn’t enough money in this package to properly insulate homes”.
The head of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, Sir David King, has also called for a “comprehensive policy” after calling the scheme just a “small step in the right direction” and raising concerns that the “voluntary nature” of the policy “threatens its rollout”.
Featured Image – Flickr
Rio Ferdinand is helping change young lives with community programmes in Oldham and Salford
Ex-Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand and his foundation’s wonderful work is helping better the lives of young people in Oldham, Salford and across Manchester as a whole.
Over the past year, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and The Guinness Partnership have been putting together a vital social initiative aimed at providing opportunities and resources to young people across Greater Manchester, helping them develop their skills and aspirations for future working life.
Now, after a hugely successful 12-month campaign, their skills and progression community programme, participants are well and truly starting to feel the impact, with 90% of those taking part now stating that they are enjoying a clear idea and focus on what they want to do for a career.
It may have be thriving in Salford and Oldham at the moment, but given the benefit the scheme has already had — not to mention the ambition the Rio Ferdinand Foundation has shown around various areas of the UK since being set up in 2012 — we can only see this spreading further across the region.
The skills-based initiative engages young people aged under 25 years old and living in Guinness homes in a six-month skills-based programme which has been up and running in the two Manc boroughs, as well as the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, since March 2022.
Young people from both Oldham and Salford take part in a weekly schedule of activities designed to tackle youth unemployment, including digital media training (photography, product design, filmmaking, podcasting), building and construction, CV workshops, mock interviews and more.
Not only do these shadowing opportunities garner confidence and raise aspirations among other young people in the local community, but they also help directly develop their employability skills via mentoring.
For instance, Matthew, 19 from Royton in Oldham, completed the programme and then was supported to apply to the Guinness Aspire Awards to request funding to purchase camera and lighting equipment to help him start a small local photography business. Quality stuff.
Matt says that the scheme “has been an amazing opportunity and has given [him] a chance to get back on the right path… I know what I want to do now and can’t wait to start… I would recommend that other people in my position get involved with it in the future.”
As well as markedly increasing participants health and well-being, all 100% of those involved across Salford and Oldham reported feeling more confident, with many now enjoying opportunities with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s partners such as Warner Music, Kiss FM, The Jockey Club and the Gym Group.
Speaking on the programme’s success, Rio himself said in a statement: “The Foundation is committed to working with young people at the heart of their communities to offer support, training, and opportunities to those that need it… engaging with the Guinness Partnership has provided a great boost to our reach and our work”.
Well in, Rio. Thankfully, he isn’t the only ex-Manchester-based footballer still trying to make a difference in the local community either:
Campbell, 38, was found dead in his home in Mossley, Tameside, on Saturday 3 July. He had been fatally assaulted and died of the injuries he sustained in the attack.
Belfield was arrested on 23 March 2023 by Suriname authorities on suspicion of drug-related offences – he’ll likely remain in the South American nation’s jurisdiction to face these charges.
Then GMP want to bring him back to Manchester to face questioning from GMP’s Major Incident Team.
Detective Chief Inspector Liz Hopkinson from GMP’s Major Incident team said: “The news of Belfield’s arrest is an important development in our investigation, we will be working with international law enforcement agencies to bring Belfield back to Manchester and continue in our pursuit to find answers for Thomas’ family.
“Through vigilance shown by our colleagues in South America, Belfield was recognised by Suriname’s law enforcement upon his arrest and information regarding his whereabouts was shared with our Force Critical Wanted Unit.
“We have previously released numerous appeals to ask for help in finding him and we thank the public for their continued support in this case.
“This is an excellent result which shows once again, that UK law enforcement does not give up on finding those abroad who are wanted for offences in the UK.”