Include water-saving products in Green Homes Grant, say BMA and BiKBBI

Following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme on July 8, the BMA and BiKBBI have written a joint open letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma complaining that the initiative does not include support for the installation of more efficient water fittings.

Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) chief executive Tom Reynolds (pictured left) and British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) chief executive Damian Walters (right), both expressed their disappointment at the exclusion of water-saving fittings and urged the Business Secretary to “revisit the scope of the Green Homes Grant” to include such products.

The letter read as follows [text in full]:

“Dear Secretary of State,

“We are writing to you as representatives bathroom fittings manufacturers and of professional tradespeople who install such products.

The announcement by the Chancellor of the introduction of a Green Homes Grant was welcome. As the Committee on Climate Change stated last year, the 29 million existing homes across the UK must be made low carbon, low-energy and resilient to a changing climate as a Treasury-backed infrastructure priority. The Green Homes Grant is a small but important step on this journey.

“In their report on housing, the Committee on Climate Change, also called for simultaneous improvements to water efficiency at the same time as other retrofit interventions. Heating water, for example, for showers and hot taps, is the second-largest source of household greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it was disappointing to see that Green Home Grants exclude support for the installation of more efficient water fittings.

“In addition to energy and carbon saving benefits of reducing wasted water, there is also a critical need to safeguard this vital natural resource. The Chief Executive of the Environment Agency has already warned about an existential threat due to water shortages in the UK within 25 years. With two-thirds of domestic water consumption taking place in the bathroom, incentivising installation of products that maintain users’ experience while saving water would therefore have a ‘double-whammy’ environmental benefit.

“For new homes, Part G of the Building Regulations specifies the water efficiency standard expected. Most of the existing 29 million homes in the housing stock would struggle to meet this standard, despite good tools to signpost to appropriate upgrades. Many manufacturers put their products on the Unified Water Label scheme to provide information, such as flow rates, on the efficiency of fittings. The water calculator can help homeowners and contractors calculate the overall water performance of the building.

We urge you to revisit the scope of the Green Homes Grant to include water efficiency measures or even to consider a separate incentivisation scheme to promote water-efficient bathroom upgrades.

“In closing, we wish to go even further and emphasise a third, ‘triple-whammy’, benefit. Incentivisation of more water-efficient fittings would safeguard and increase employment for installers at a difficult time. Recent polling research by BMA/Opinium on a hypothetical 15% VAT reduction on bathroom fittings indicated that around 50% of consumers inclined to carry out work themselves would use the additional budget to employ the services of a professional. Inclusion in the Green Homes Grant, or any similar incentivisation scheme, would be similarly received by consumers.

“We would be grateful for the opportunity to explore with you and Government colleagues the suggestions we propose.”

The letter was jointly signed by Reynolds and Walters.

The £2bn Green Homes Grant announced by the Chancellor on July 8 set out plans to upgrade homes across England and Wales. It would include £500 million to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes, help reduce fuel poverty and support the installation of low-carbon heating.

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