Roof and Loft Insulation Scams in Essex?

In the last few months we have heard from people who have received telephone calls offering free roof / loft insulation. We are trying to determine if these are complete scams, maybe a partial con or completely legitimate.

The calls generally follow these lines:

  • A cold telephone call saying that we are entitled to free loft insulation
  • That it is a Government backed grant that is funding the insulation
  • The team are in your area at the moment and will visit you this week
  • A no obligation free quote will be given once a salesman inspects our loft space

This therefore sounds plausible. Sometimes the government do provide grants for home improvements that will reduce heating costs. However, it is often the case that if something sounds too good to be true, it actually is.

However, there is always suspicion for the following reasons:

  • Cold callers should never be trusted.
  • They never know the state of the building before stating that you are entitled to free loft insulation.
The second point is important. Some people living in new homes, built in the last 10 years, have received these calls. It is likely that these houses will all have more than the recommended amount of loft insulation. Builders pile it in thick these days – at least they should. It is relatively inexpensive.

Our suspicion is that there probably is a government grant available (this is correct, see full details of the Warm Front Scheme below). The companies that are offering this service are most likely charging a high labour and management fee – probably much higher than the cost of organising it all yourself.

Remember, it costs a lot of money to phone up every household in Essex so any company doing this is hoping to make a good return on that investment.

We shall do some research on this matter and then update this story.

The update:

Warm Front scheme

The following details were correct at time of publication – 8th April 2012.

The UK government does indeed provide grants for households to improve their insulation. It is called the Warm Front Scheme and provides grants of up to £3,500 for houses with gas supplies and up to £6,000 for homes where oil powered heating is the only option. The scheme has been set up to ensure that homes are not only warmer but also healthier and more energy efficient.

Any types of improvements can be carried that will improve a home – it is not restricted to only loft insulation. As mentioned earlier, loft insulation is the cheap and quick way to improve a household (any company offering loft insulation as a part of the government grant before even looking at a house seems suspicious).

Grants Can Cover:

  • Loft / roof insulation
  • Draughtproofing
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Hot water tank insulation
  • Gas, electric, liquid petroleum gas or oil heating
  • Glass-fronted fire – the Warm Front scheme can convert your solid-fuel open fire to a glass-fronted fire

You Won’t Have to Pay Anything

The Government website (linked below) states that you will not have to pay anything if the work that is required is covered by the grant. If the required work costs more than the grant then you will have to pay the excess. This will be agreed before any work is carried out and you should have a written contract.

Who Is Eligible?

This grant is not available to everyone though. It is available if you are:

  • On income-related benefits
  • Living in a property that is poorly insulated
  • Do not have a working central heating system (this can include an old central heating system that does not work very well)
  • You must own your home or rent it from a private landlord.

Eligible customers are all those awarded:

  • Pension Credit or;
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support or;
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or;
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance in the assessment phase (first 13 weeks of the claim)

Who must also have one of the following:

  • a pensioner premium. or;
  • a disability or severe disability premium, or;
  • an award of child tax credit that also includes an element for a disabled,  or severely disabled child or young person, or;
  • a child under the age of five living with you

Warm Front surveyors

If you apply (or if someone applies on your behalf, such as a company who phones you out of the blue) then you will receive a visit from a Warm Front surveyor. They will then measure the energy efficiency of your home and make some recommendations for improvements.

Not all homes will be eligible for a grant. Many homes that may seem cold are above the threshold required to receive the government grant.

SAP rating of 55 or below

Only homes with a SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) rating of 55 or below are eligible for the grant. This is the equivalent of a Band D Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

More information on SAP and EPC:

How To Apply for a Warm Front Grant

You do not need to pay a third party to apply for your grant.

Apply Online

You can apply online here. If you know someone who does not have Internet and may benefit from this you can apply on their behalf.

Apply over the phone

Call 0800 316 2805 (or textphone 0800 072 0156). An advisor will then take you through the application form.

Lines are open Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 6.00 pm and Saturday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Apply by post

  • Carillion Energy Services
  • Freepost NEA12054
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • NE2 1BR

Full Details can be found on the Government website, “Heating and insulation improvements from the Warm Front scheme” –

Advice from the Citizens Advice Bureaux

The Citizens Advice Bureaux offer some advice on the subject here:

The Cold Callers and Their Con

So, this begs the question, why are companies calling households across Essex and trying to arrange a “no obligation quote” before any application is made. This is where the scam probably lies, it is it indeed a scam.

We suspect that a company will:

  • Charge a fee to process the application on behalf of the resident – and not mention the free call phone number (0800 316 2805) in the process.
  • They will not inform the resident that they are only eligible if they are on benefits – they will take the application fee regardless.

This is probably all the scam is. They turn up, tell you your may be eligible, take their fee to “start the complex process” and then inform you later that unfortunately, as you are not on benefits, you are not eligible.

Power Companies

Another trick comes from people working on behalf of Power companies. According to Tony Levene on Lovemoney:

“Power companies can also pay up between 40 and 70 per cent of the cost of roof and cavity wall insulation for others, irrespective of income. And this is where the catch comes. Door to door selling companies – and I failed to find who he worked for – hope you sign up for a package that may not be the best deal or the best quality. They will then claim the subsidy – not from the government as claimed but from the power companies.”

Read more: The new scam on your doorstep by Tony Levene.

So it is very likely that the cold callers on the phone are operating in the same way. They will persuade you to change to a power company that offers an incentive / discount on improving your home insulation.

What is in it for them? They receive a commission for getting you to change power supply.

Worst Cases

Other websites have reported that in some cases the companies carry out roof inspections and some dubious “inspectors” have even removed roof tiles. Why? We do not know. Probably to then say that they house needs urgent roof replacements, which is fortunate, as it will make installing the insulation easier.


25 Comments on “Roof and Loft Insulation Scams in Essex?”

  1. I keep getting these calls. I am retired, so I thought that they were targeting me, but by the sounds of it they are calling everyone then? I always knew it was a con – the government would send a letter if they wanted to help me out, not get someone to phone me. But I never knew what their game was until now! Many thanks for explaining it all so well.

  2. Hello
    This scheme is not a con if the insulation in your loft and or walls is below new standards the insulation will be fitted free if you are on benefits or emloyment seekers allowance or young children and over age of 70 . there are other free ways but those are the main ones

  3. That is right Mr. Hall. However, not everyone who calls is offering the best advice, many have their own interests in mind. An unfortunate truth. Although the scheme is of course designed to do exactly as you say.

  4. This is a scam. The caller leaves a message asking you to Press 2 and in doing so, you now pay for the call to a premium rate line. I treat all cold calls as scams so if someone cold calls, I do not buy anything or provide any details. I stop the call as quickly as you can.

  5. I received a similar call on Wednesday 22 Aug and was asked to press 2, did so and listened to the ‘agent’ who said everything is free and an inspection was arranged.
    Being a District Councillor in the past, I am aware that one has to be over 70 years old or on particular benefits to qualify and I look forward to asking the ‘inspector’ a few face to face questions about the validity of the scheme.

  6. I am certainly looking forward to an update on this. Very curious to know what happens at the next stage, when they enter the house. Maybe make sure there is someone else there with you, to make it harder for them to try to bully you into agreeing to some work. I am naturally suspicious of their methods and motives.

  7. Such callers are operating in Liverpool claiming to be representing Carillion and even using their stationery. What’s in it for them when the people they are targeting qualify for free insulation.

  8. That is still a mystery. It could be just to get the foot in the door and then start charging for all sorts of additional extras. “Free insulation, oh, but it will cost £500 to remove the old, and £1000 to replace those perfectly good tiles” etc. etc. Would be interesting to hear from someone who has fallen for the call.

  9. I have just had a cold call asking if my loft needs insulated saying it is free and it is a Government scheme to ensure all house have proper insulation. I told them that I had the insulated my loft some five years ago, they said that it may well be ok, but they would still like to come out and have a look to double check we met the Government standard, also they would issue me with a Government certificate to say that I had met the required standard. I was about to book an appointment when alarm bells started to ring in my head as she then proceeded to ask me how many bedrooms I had and what type of house it was – I queried this as i didn’t think it was anything to do with the insulation of the loft. I then asked her how do i know this is not a scam and she said our inspectors have badges, I said well anyone can make up a badge. Anyway, I didn’t book the appointment but asked for her number to call her back she gave me a number which I called back five minutes after her call and lo and behold it said there was no such number. What worries me is that my 84 year old mother lived with me up until she died last year and her name is probably on hundreds of rogues databases saying she is elderly and has her own house, as the caller referred to me as Mrs Campbell. These people are absolute scam merchants preying on older people. Something should be done to shut them down. I got the better of this company but how many elderly people living on their own are stung by them out of their life’s savings. My advice is go through your local authority rather than private companies – never never ask cold callers to come to your house or take up a free offer – once they are in your house they can do anything. STAY WELL AWAY FROM COLD CALLERS!

  10. Thanks for that Deirdre. I put your final words in bold. Still not entirely sure what the scam is, but no doubt it is a matter of getting the personal information, getting a foot in the door and then doing the hard sell on something else.

    I actually had a similar call today asking about my cavity wall insulation and windows. Just answer no to every question and they tend to get bored and hang up.

  11. Like many I’m being plagued so much with cold calls I leave the answer phone on. The other day however I had a door to door salesman trying the same thing. After I told him my cavity walls were full and I’d got all the roof insulation I needed, he implied that when the scheme ended early next year the government would be sending inspectors round to check on people’s lofts and forcing them to pay for insulation if they didn’t meet their standard. I still said no thanks.

  12. That is so funny. I really hope someone comes to my door to tell me that! Is there a new SAS unit to force their way into people’s lofts and then imprison home owners who are found guilty of not having sufficient insulation!!!. It is amazing the total BS that these salesmen come out with these days.

  13. I have just received one of these calls and just wanted to say thank you for this site – it confirmed what I thought!!! My suspicion was aroused when I said No thank you, I wasn’t interested as I lived in a flat! Quite amusingly, I was told that I would still qualify for this grant but when I pointed out that we were a first floor flat and that we had an upstairs neighbour, I was asked if I was sure that I didn’t have a loft!!! Also, being on the list which is supposed to stop cold calling (trust me, it doesn’t), if I was not quite as cynical, I could have thought that this was a genuine call. We have some vulnerable neighbours and I’m going to make sure that I let them know to beware of these calls!!

  14. Glad you did not get caught out Caroline. Share our page with friends anyway you can, people need to know not to trust cold callers.
    I am hoping to get another call so I can play along with “never wanted insulation, I just put on an extra jumper” and see what the next stage is.

    I did actually have another “survey” call yesterday – again, they were really interested in who provided my energy. I told them Essex Electricity ….

  15. I’m down in Wiltshire, and we had people round last night knocking on doors offering free loft insulation. I live in a council house, so queried this, but was told the council were happy with it. Stupidly gave them my details!!

    I rang my housing officer this morning and she said that if I wanted to add extra loft insulation, I’d need to ask permission; if any damage was done I’d be liable, and that the council would provide it free for tenants.

    She rang me back this afternoon to say that it is a scam, and definitely not to let them do the work.

  16. I came across some literature on this the other day which also confirmed what John B. Sears said above – you have to be over 70 years of age to qualify.

    It really does seem like the main scam is that an energy company will provide this “free insulation” in return for you moving provider. The salesman just forgets to mention that part….

  17. I’m not really sure that it’s all a scam as there are many people who’ve had this done but they are also telling people who do not qualify under the scheme that they can have theirs done too free.

    I booked mine but the work was never carried out. I wonder if they told the energy company the work was done and they get their fee despite not carrying out the work?

    All leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

  18. Pity you guys are not up here in Scotland, I’ve been working for a local Glasgow energy company for the last 4 weeks, the Government funding ends at the end of December up here…

    I do knock on the odd door and ask when your loft was last insulated etc, but mostly it’s been through word of mouth…. I survey the job, measure existing depth and total area, tank, pipes etc, all commision based….

    I manage about 6 a day, 30 mins max, with one form to fill in….

    The thing is up here in Scotland, everyone qualifies for this for free now, only until the end of the year and only because the Government had too much money left with the funding…

    The Glasgow fitters are at your door about a week later and i’ve had no complaints so far…

    But as said above regarding phone calls to your house, yes be very wary ! and obviously dont let anyone into your house without the correct ID !



  19. I have been helping an 80 yr old lady to clear her loft which is full of stuff, She would much rather clear it with her sons in April, when they are back from abroard, as most of the stuff is theirs then get the insulation done properly.
    She has been told by an Essex based company that provided she clear 2/3 of the space they will put down insulation in that 2/3 and they have insisted it has to be done by 31 january 2013 in order to get some grant or another. Does this make any sense?

  20. Thankyou for your reply
    Having done a bit of looking at sites could it be she is having it done allegedly on the Cert scheme, which I see ended in dec 2012 but she was in Hospital in early part and may have delayed it. I doubt she is on any benefits and so would not get it free on new green deal scheme.
    But I will ask to see her paperwork tomorrow and contact the company because there is too much for me to move it into 1/3 of loft, without significant chuck out and that is too stressful without her sons there.

  21. Now, I have not looked deeply into how these schemes work, but I would like to think that if someone offers to insulate a loft then part of the service is to move items out of the first, insulate, then put things back. Just about anybody with a loft is going to have it full of junk, and the scheme is for elderly people who are unlikely to be in a position to do the work themselves.

    When you find out more please report back. If this particular case is one where the insulation is carried out as part of a transfer from one energy supplier to another, it would make sense. I am a bit of a cynic these days….. just been looking at the MoneySavingExpert and they mention that British Gas pay for referrals, meaning that a third party company may get paid for each enw customer they provide BG.

    “British Gas is offering an extra £50 cash to anyone who refers an elderly or vulnerable person on qualifying benefits to get free insulation. Plus the household installing the insulation also gets £50. “

    I cannot help thinking that this is part of the reason why companies are so keen to get the loft insulators around to our houses.

  22. I am getting the same automated voice calls to my mobile phone. It is from an anonymous number and says, “Wall insulation we are UK based and government approved. Press 2 to speak to an advisor.”
    There is no mention of what organisation is calling. I did change settings on my mobile to make my number invisible and then press 2 the next time I received the call. I did not get to any advisor or achieved any connection though. When I do not answer the call or miss it then it leaves the same automated message. Its all very annoying. I would like to stop getting these calls. How can I stop them? Why does the government allow companies to do this? I don’t even know if the company is legit. I hope that John B gets to ask the person who comes to him lots of question. What we really need is actual contact from government, not contact from companies that we do not know – and we do not know if they are legit or just trying to gather info about us and sell it.

  23. October 2014: Whether the same as those reported scams above, I have had two calls about two, even three weeks apart. The line on the last call, did show a number: 0203-752-50xx, and attached to a call centre that called itself, Helplink, and stated “I was called today by a Customer Support/Services, and that nothing needed to be done, they will contact me again if they need to.” The call said it was originating in South Africa, and after confirming name and address they put me through, after a pause to a Company in Yorkshire. I don’t remember if a name was given. Because they told me that this was free loft or cavity wall insulation, I suppose my guard was dropped or not suspicious. In the last call, I had developed up to arranging an appointment day, but no time. Gave them the address. I asked for written confirmation, which they claimed they were only an online company, and would send me an email. No email has been sent and the call received last week Wed/Thurs. I am beginning to believe this could have been a scam, but what, which? No money was asked; no identity questions except my email address. Perhaps that is it; the seek access to my computer and any banking or other info entered there. Or perhaps the access cookies. I am a tad internet illiterate.

  24. They may just be getting paid for leads. S African company calls everybody and sells all positive responses on to UK company. Essentially market research, but not being honest about it.

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