Kingston councillors criticise government’s £5k heat pump subsidies

Kingston’s Liberal Democrat and Green Party councillors have criticised the government’s plan to offer household grants of £5,000 to install heat pumps from next April.

The councillors’ main criticism was the scheme does not go far enough and more funding is required. 

The grant is part of the government’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The government hopes to stop the sale of new gas boilers from 2035. 

The subsidies will run over three years and be available to serve 90,000 homes  – short of the Climate Change Committee (CCC)’s recommended funding of 900,000 pumps a year by 2028. 

Liberal Democrat councillor John Sweeney said that the heat pump grants were just a drop in the ocean. 

“Heat pumps are useless without proper insulation, yet the government closed down their home insulation programme,” he said. 

“Liberal Democrats want to see an emergency ten-year programme to insulate homes. This will cut bills and emissions.”

Heat pumps work by extracting warmth from the air, ground or water. When coupled with proper insulation this can lower household bills.

Green Party councillor Sharron Sumner said the government’s grants were a disappointment to most green campaigners.

“Johnson originally indicated this new strategy would include a target-based commitment to ban the use of gas heating boilers, however the ambition was watered down to phase them out instead,” she said. 

The heat pump grants have also been criticised by Kingston locals, as the subsidies will not make the pumps available to everyone.  

Kingston resident Nathan Pottinger-Marques said: “They’ll be offered to wealthy homeowners while people in flats and rented properties will be left to pay more for electricity or just have to stick another layer on.”

Kingston resident Charles Shand criticised the high expense of a heat pump compared to a gas boiler.

“The difference between a gas boiler installation and a heat pump alternative would pay my actual annual gas bill for eight years,” he said.

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