Complete guide to the electric car charging point grant

The electric car wallbox charger grant makes installing a home charger cheaper and easier. Here's how it works...

Home wallbox charging units are making electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) a much more convenient proposition for drivers who have a driveway or their own off-street parking.

Wallboxes cut down the amount of time it takes to charge an electric car at home by delivering more power than can typically be supplied through a three-pin household socket. When installed in the right location, they can also eliminate the need for extra-long (and possibly less safe) extension cables, too.

There are dozens of home charging hubs to choose from, with the cheapest starting from around £300. There's also a government grant that can significantly reduce the cost of installation.

What is the wallbox grant?

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) oversees a grant that'll cover 75% of the cost of buying and installing a wallbox charger, up to a maximum value of £500. This figure dropped to £350 from 1 April 2020; the government says the reduction in the grant will enable twice as many people to benefit from it, thus further supporting the expected increase in the update of electric vehicles.

The supplier will be paid directly by the government, so you won’t be asked for a payment up-front: however, you’ll still need to meet any shortfall between the grant and the total cost.

Several criteria need to be met in order to be eligible for the grant: you need to own, lease, or be named as the primary user of an eligible vehicle, or have one on order. Helpfully, the grant covers both new and used vehicles. You’ll have to use an installer authorised by the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), too.

You don’t need to wait until you take delivery of the car, although you can’t have the wallbox installed more than four months beforehand. It makes sense to complete the necessary forms as soon as you can, because it’ll minimise any gap between you getting your new car and being able to charge it using your wallbox.

In July 2019, the criteria was amended so that only 'smart' chargers qualify for the subsidy. Smart chargers can connect to the internet, which allows charging sessions to be programmed remotely: this adds convenience for drivers of electric cars and PHEVs, and also allows them to take advantage of cheaper electricity tariffs that are common at night – which can in turn reduce running costs.

Am I eligible for the OLEV grant?

The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme – to give its full name – is available to anyone who has taken ownership of an eligible new or used electric car since 1 October 2016, as long they’ve not claimed before.

The scheme covers individuals who can prove they’ve ordered and bought an electric vehicle. Those leasing an electric car, or leasing as part of a salary sacrifice scheme, are also eligible, as long as the lease lasts at least six months.

Company-car drivers are eligible, too, as long as they’ll have the car for more than six months. The same is true of individuals named by their employer as the primary user of an electric vehicle; however, if the named individual changes within six months, a second grant can’t be claimed.

Assuming you’ve got this far, there are more criteria to meet. You must have off-street parking, which in the OLEV’s words must be “associated to the property”. In practice, that means a driveway. If the ‘association’ is unclear, evidence from the land registry or local authority may be required.

Additionally, the off-street parking must be deemed suitable, and will be the subject of a survey by the installer prior to installation. It must also have good access for the vehicle to be charged safely. The installer will also have to bear in mind its own best practices, so will watch for factors such as trip hazards.