THE UK Government’s plan to make grants of £5000 available to some homes in England and Wales to replace gas boilers with heat pumps has been branded “meagre” by critics.

Ministers announced the grants as it confirmed a target for all new heating system installations to be low carbon by 2035, but insisted families would not be forced to remove their existing fossil fuel boilers.

Experts and environmental groups warned the £450 million three-year pot to switch from boilers would only pay for 30,000 heat pumps a year, a fraction of what is needed to meet targets.

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Campaigners at Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth criticised the level of funding for heat pumps and energy efficiency measures in homes, while shadow business secretary Ed Miliband labelled the plans a “meagre, unambitious and wholly inadequate response”.

Jan Rosenow, Europe director at the Regulatory Assistance Project, which aims to accelerate the shift to clean, reliable and efficient energy, said there were many positive elements to the strategy, with the plans for a boiler phase out setting an example to other countries in the run up to Cop26 climate talks.

He said: “Providing grants for installing heat pumps is essential as they are more expensive than gas boilers, but the level of funding is too low.”

The £5000 grants will be available for households in England and Wales from next April, and will mean people installing a heat pump will pay a similar amount to the installation of traditional gas boilers, according to the plans.

There is also a £60 million innovation fund to make clean heat systems smaller and easier to install and cheaper to run.

The Government said it would work with industry to make heat pumps the same cost to buy and run as fossil fuel units by 2030.

Heat pumps currently cost an average £10,000 to install and do not necessarily deliver savings on running costs despite being much more efficient than gas boilers, because green levies are higher on electricity than on gas.

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Cleaning up emissions from buildings, which accounted for 17% of the UK’s greenhouse gases in 2019, mostly from heating, will require a mix of low-carbon solutions, including heat networks, and potentially also the use of hydrogen boilers where hydrogen can be produced cleanly.

Writing in The Sun, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to reassure householders they would not have to rip out their existing boilers.

He said: “While we’re going to have to make some pretty major changes to the way we heat our homes, the Greenshirts of the Boiler Police are not going to kick in your door with their sandal-clad feet and seize, at carrot-point, your trusty old combi.”

Meanwhile this morning, Johnson called for billions of investment into green technologies as he said governments and the markets must work together to tackle climate change.

The Prime Minister announced a new partnership with Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive an extra £200 million of private sector investment in green power schemes in the UK.

He was speaking at the Government’s Global Investment Summit aimed at attracting overseas funding for UK projects.