9th December, 2013

Ed Davey today unveiled a £450 million scheme to help private landlords and people moving home to make their properties more energy efficient.

The Energy Secretary also pledged a £60 million boost to the domestic Green Deal over the next year. The package of measures was announced as Davey issued a statement in the House of Commons about the Government’s plans to cut green levies on people’s energy bills.

The Prime Minister David Cameron pledged last month to "rollback"  green levies  in a bid to tackle soaring domestic energy price increases. Today, Davey said households would see an average saving of £50 on their energy bills through a rebate cutting the average customer’s bill by £12 for the next two years, and by reducing the cost of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), a multibillion pound scheme imposed on the big energy firms to insulate fuel poor and hard to treat homes. The latter would result in a £30-£35 cut to bills on average, next year, said Davey.

"We propose to consult on remodelling the Energy Company Obligation so it is easier and cheaper to deliver," Davey told MPs. The ECO he said would be maintained and extended for low income and vulnerable households from March 2015 until March 2017.

Homebuyers and private landlord scheme

To ensure the Government did not renege on its overall carbon-cutting commitments, Davey said he would introduce a homebuyers and private landlord scheme that will see hundreds of thousands of properties insulated over the next three years.

"In future, when people buy a new home they will be able to get £1000 from the Government to spend on important energy saving measures […] helping around 60,000 homes a year over three years," Davey said. "The Government will also introduce support for private landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their properties that will improve around 15,000 of the least energy efficient properties over three years."

Green Deal

Davey added the Government would also deliver a "significant boost" to the Green Deal, by upping the funds available to local authorities over this year through "Green Deal communities" from £20 million to £80 million. He said the new funding would be directed at "street by street" programmes to tackle hard to treat homes.

And in a measure to help safeguard green jobs, he said the Green Deal Cashback scheme, introduced at the beginning of the year, would be kept open until the new measures came into effect.

At the same time, the Department of Energy and Climate Change unveiled a series of changes to domestic Green Deal to make it easier and less time consuming for consumers to access and for the supply chain to deliver. These included ensuring customers can, if they choose, move from quote to a Green Deal Plan in a single day, and opening up access to Energy Performance Certificate data, so that companies can more easily identify properties which will benefit most from energy efficiency improvements.

"Today’s announcement confirms a serious, workable package which would save households around £50 on average," Davey said, adding that the energy companies would not be left "off the hook".

Higher bills

But Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint said the announcement did not contain "a single measure that will cost the energy companies a single penny" and said it added up to "hundreds of millions of taxpayers money being spent, energy companies helping fewer households with energy efficiency and yet people’s bills will still be higher this winter than last."

The measures were also criticised by those operating in the energy efficiency and construction sectors.

Jobs at risk

"Make no mistake, this is bad news for people who cannot afford to heat their homes, especially if they live in solid walled properties, and bad news for thousands of construction industry workers who may well be joining the dole queue this Christmas," Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council, said.

"Many, many, many thousands of people are going to lose out on energy efficiency work in their very cold, expensive to heat homes in order to give something like a £1 a week rebate on their energy bills," Alex Hunter, head of corporate affairs at Rockwool, added.

The Association for the Conservation of Energy estimates cuts to the ECO could cost the energy efficiency sector 13,000 jobs next year.

Four of the Big Six energy firms announced today that their energy prices would rise by less as result of the Government’s measures.

Source: Greenwise

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