Social Landlords Seek To Retain And Improve Insulation Scheme

13 November 2013

Social landlords are warning that plans to scrap a Government implemented energy efficiency scheme could prove costly in the long term.

The Energy Company Obligation has come under fire recently as energy companies have blamed the Government scheme for a rise in the cost of energy, labelling it a “green tax”.

The scheme provides funding for low-income and impoverished householders to install Cavity Wall Insulation, Loft Insulation, and other energy efficient home improvement measures. The scheme is funded by the UK’s major energy companies as a result of Government levies. These companies have complained that the levies are to blame for growing fuel bills.

Following British Gas’ announcement last month that it would be increasing its prices from December, Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament: "We need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges that are putting up bills."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described the call to action as “panicky” and it has become apparent that a rift is starting to divide the Coalition Government.

Clegg isn’t the only one to believe Cameron’s comments were panicked and ill-advised. The Sustainable Homes Index For Tomorrow (SHIFT) was also quick to defend the Energy Company Obligation.

“We do not accept that measures such as ECO are the cause of increasing energy bills. Indeed they are in the front line of tackling fuel poverty and reducing its impact,” the group said in an open letter to the Prime Minister.

SHIFT is composed of a wide range of housing associations, supply chain firms, academic groups, and other interested parties. The various organisations making up the group are responsible for the homes of more than three million people, many of which are amongst the most impoverished communities in Britain.

The group explains that without the Energy Company Obligation, the Government could be responsible for as many as 7,800 deaths each year. That figure is derived from the number of excess winter deaths that result from a cold home, something that Cavity Wall Insulation and Loft Insulation can help prevent.

“The current uncertainty over the future of ECO is already having a damaging impact as social landlords rethink their plans,” the letter continues. “Many of our members are considering delaying or disbanding much needed investment. This will have perverse impact, increasing fuel bills and reducing employment.”

The letter goes on to point out that a recent study found that retrofitting a property can generate as much as £4.76 in social value for every £1 spent.

“We ask that you take urgent action to recognise the benefits of investment in the housing stock by social landlords and retain and improve ECO for the long term.”

The Government’s future plans regarding the Energy Company Obligation are still unknown but an announcement is likely to be made in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 5th December.

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