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Heat pump grants for the rich and gas taxes for the rest could bring down Boris Johnson

Global Warming Policy Forum

London, 15 August – Boris Johnson is reported to be offering £400 million in grants for the installation of heat pumps that will most likely benefit 60,000 of the richest UK households (Green grants of £7,000 to help households replace gas boilers).

The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) has explicitly warned against exactly this kind of travesty, noting that because the £7,000 subsidy covers only a part of the overall heat pump costs, which could amount to £12,000–£20,000 (including installation and the additional insulation required), it is almost certain that the beneficiaries of Boris Johnson’s subsidy grant would overwhelmingly be well-off households with cash to spare.

In effect, the only people who will be able to take advantage of the grant will be those who don’t actually need it, and the heat pump subsidy yet another wealth transfer from poorer taxpayers and consumers to richer householders. 

As if this gift to the rich were not bad enough, Mr Johnson is also reported to be on the verge of putting a swingeing tax on natural gas to force households to switch to heat pumps.

This gas tax adds insult to injury, since the households hit by its costs will be precisely those that must save before they can afford to install a new heating system or take advantage of the subsidy.

In conjunction with Mr Johnson’s grant for richer households, we can now see that the green home heating scheme unfolding is outrageous, unjust and ill considered. It is bad politics and worse morals. 

Mr Johnson is fond of classical quotations, but this time it seems that he has found inspiration in the Bible: 

To those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” (Matthew 13:12)

Dr John Constable, GWPF energy editor, said:

Support for low carbon heating installation should only proceed if the grants cover the full cost of heat pumps and are rigorously means tested to ensure that the support is limited to those that need it. Otherwise, the scheme must be abandoned.”

Dr Benny Peiser, GWPF director, said: 

Boris Johnson’s utopian Net Zero plans stumble from one blunder to another. The Prime Minister cannot really want to hurt lower and middle-income voters by increasing their heating bills with a gas tax, and then giving that tax cash away in heat pump grants to rich householders. But that is exactly what his blinkered green advisors are actually  proposing.

If he doesn’t get a grip soon, his time in Downing Street will end in humiliating failure. This has the makings of a political fiasco far worse than Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax.”

Note for editors

* For the GWPF’s criticism of heat pump grants for the rich see A welcome U-turn: Ministers backtrack on gas boiler ban

* For a critique of the proposed tax on natural gas see  How to and how not to cut UK electricity bills

* For the GWPF’s cost estimate of decarbonising housing see Net Zero cost sheet: Decarbonising housing