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.
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.
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
- 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.
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” – www.direct.gov.uk/en/Environmentandgreenerliving/Energyandwatersaving/Energygrants/DG_10018661
Advice from the Citizens Advice Bureaux
The Citizens Advice Bureaux offer some advice on the subject here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/campaigns/current_campaigns/recent-campaigns/big-energy-saving-week/getting-help-from-your-energy-supplier/
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.
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.
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.