Recent announcements of Government plans to make cuts to ECO and reportedly build houses without adequate insulation have received criticism from industry professionals as it fails to recognise energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority and use infrastructure funds to improve the homes of vulnerable householders.
In his Autumn Statement, George Osborne has revealed plans to build 400,000 new homes in the next few years that reportedly may have to be retrofitted with insulation and other energy saving measures to meet the UK’s carbon saving targets.
Neil Marshall, chief executive of the NIA commented: “If this proposal goes ahead and new homes are not adequately insulated when built it will mean that these homes will be less energy efficient resulting in the occupants facing much higher energy bills which is a major concern given continued rising energy prices and unnecessary additional costs from retrofitting later.”
The Chancellor has also come under fire for neglecting the importance of insulation with his announcement that the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) will be replaced from April 2017. Instead of the existing scheme, the Government will introduce a cheaper domestic energy efficiency supplier obligation, which will run for five years and upgrade the energy efficiency of just 200,000 houses per year.
The Insulated Render & Cladding Association (INCA) has responded to these announcements stating that in order to effectively tackle fuel poverty, the Government will need to go further than its commitment to help one million homes and make a meaningful start on addressing the solid wall housing stock. With the latest statistics from the ONS showing that there were almost 44,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales last winter, the highest since 1999, the association argues that the need for home insulation has never been more serious and the Government has missed a critical opportunity to prevent cold homes and unnecessary deaths.
Neil Marshall, chief executive of the NIA “would urge a rethink in the energy efficiency policy for new homes” as he said the cuts mean “there could be a 78% reduction in the number of households that will receive energy efficiency improvements over the next five years compared to the previous Parliament.”
Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at the UK Green Building Council, said: “The cuts to ECO and RHI will see more jobs lost in the industry and vulnerable households will continue to be trapped by unaffordable energy bills.
“Upgrading the UK’s draughty homes is a key infrastructure challenge which can reduce pressures on our energy system, bring down consumer bills and ease the burden of cold homes on NHS budgets.”
The stop-start nature of Government initiatives and uncertainty surrounding its energy efficiency policies have impacted negatively on the sector in 2015, and it looks like this is going to continue going forward. As Julie Hirigoyen concluded: “The Chancellor repeatedly talks about productivity, but here he is just discouraging investment and destroying a market.”
The full Spending Review and Autumn Statement can be viewed here