A leading figure in the insulation industry has called for urgent action by the Government following the closure of a number of energy firms.
Neil Marshall, chief executive of the National Insulation Association, has repeated his call for the Government to fast track the development of its new long-term sustainable policy framework for home energy efficiency. He has also demanded the introduction of urgent transitional arrangements in the meantime to address the current hiatus within the market and industry.
The move comes following the recent closures of Mark Group, which went into administration resulting in over 900 job losses, and Climate Energy, which has also put hundreds of jobs at risk.
Despite claims that the downfall of both companies have come as a result of the Government’s planned cuts to the solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT), and the news that Mark Group’s former management team has been able to acquire the new homes division of Mark Group – which focuses on loft and cavity insulation for new homes – Mr. Marshall believes changes to home energy efficiency policy in recent years have lead to the closures currently being recorded.
Speaking exclusively to RCI, Mr. Marshall said: “I fully appreciate the impact of the FiTs cuts and that these were the final nail in the coffin, but the demise of Mark Group and Climate [Energy] was a combination of the collapse in insulation levels due to ECO [Energy Company Obligation] cuts and Green Deal, Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) closure and the FITs cuts.
“Both companies and many more of our members besides diversified into renewables as a business opportunity but also to compensate for the reduction in insulation volumes. Therefore the decision on FITs has removed the opportunity and the combined effect is leading to the closures. It is important that this is understood.”
He continued: “Whilst Government has outlined its intention to introduce a new long term policy framework for energy efficiency which we welcome, the insulation industry is currently in a state of crisis as a result of the absence of robust transitional arrangements to bridge the gap until the new policies and schemes are introduced. Without urgent intervention there will be further casualties, job losses and a loss of confidence to invest among insulation companies all of which will impact on the industry’s ability to scale up to support the delivery of the Government’s longer term ambitions.”
Sir Peter Bonfield, who is leading the Government’s review of energy efficiency policy, has suggested insulation will make up a big part of his recommendations to Government, with measures including mass retrofitting of housing association homes and improved mortgage rates for green properties being considered.
The NIA has repeated its calls for urgent action after a survey revealed around 2,000 jobs have been lost among NIA members as a direct result of cuts to ECO and the Green Deal, combined with the current hiatus in policy.
Neil Marshall said: “The job losses clearly demonstrate the scale of the problems facing the industry at present and we would urge DECC Ministers to work with the industry in putting in place urgent actions to address the crisis.
“Without urgent intervention there will be further casualties, job losses and a loss of confidence to invest among insulation companies, all of which will impact on the industry’s ability to scale up to support the delivery of the Governments longer term ambitions.”