Rishi Sunak warned heat pump rollout delay will ‘cost households thousands’

Rishi Sunak has been warned that his rollback of key net zero initiatives will be bad news for households that will remain at the mercy of supply chain shocks and volatile energy markets.

Researchers at the Social Market Foundation (SMF) – a cross-party think tank – have explained that unless the Government starts investing today in the technology and the workforce needed to realise savings from transitioning to low-carbon heating, British consumers, workers and manufacturers will be worse off.

The heat pump savings for households depend on the Government acting urgently to support the heat pump manufacturing industry in developing the necessary workforce.

UK heat pump manufacturing – already small and nascent – has suffered a setback from the Government rolling back/delaying key net zero initiatives (with the phase out of oil boilers now delayed from 2026 to 2035, the same as gas boilers).

Heat pump bodies are demanding clear commitment from the Government, to avoid further damage to investor, installer and consumer confidence – and undermining the progress of the growing, but fragile heat pump industry.

In addition, the home heat workforce already struggles with skill shortages, an ageing workforce and crucially, insufficient new entrants.

The SMF believe the domestic manufacturing of heat pumps brings several advantages, particularly in the form of household savings.

Prices should come down as the industry reaches scale, either using automation or limiting imports to parts (rather than whole heat pump units).

The same goes for having a skilled workforce, where innovation in home assessment can reduce the time it takes to establish a quote, and therefore the overall cost of installing a heat pump.

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As well as potentially contributing £5.5billion to the UK economy, domestic manufacturing can lead to job creation and with positive knock-on effects for UK research and development. Beyond this, it could spur innovation such that heat pumps are designed specifically for UK homes.

Niamh O’Regan, researcher at Social Market Foundation, said: “The Government’s recent delaying of key net zero initiatives will mean that British households’ energy bills will be determined by Putin’s war or supply chain shocks. It will also mean that the British heat pump industry forgoes a chance to grab the growing global demand for low carbon heating.

Unless the Government starts investing today in the technology and the workforce needed to realise savings from transitioning to low carbon heating, British consumers, workers and manufacturers will be worse off.”

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Calls have been made for more financial support for families in order to speed up the installations of heat pumps to help the Government meet its net zero target.

Homeowners can currently apply for a £7,500 grant to install a heat pump. The Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme however has a limited number of grants and a £150million annual budget.

The National Infrastructure Commission, a group of independent advisers, says the pumps are not being installed quickly enough to reach the 2050 net zero target. It also wants to see a significant increase in the amount of money put aside to help families install the pumps, reports the BBC.

Officials at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero told the BBC it was incentivising investment in the heat pump market. It said it is providing up to £30 million to support UK manufacturing in a bid to make the switch a more “attractive choice” for families.

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