NEA comments on the publication of National Infrastructure Commission’s Infrastructure Assessment
Today [10th July] the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) have published their National Infrastructure Assessment. NIC have stated that improving domestic energy efficiency should be a key priority for the UK Government and 21,000 home efficiency improvements should be installed every week between now and 2035. NIC’s analysis also highlights that central investment will be crucial to keep energy prices in 2050 at same level as today and reduce the cost of decarbonising heating.
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive at National Energy Action (NEA) comments:
“We urgently need to address the energy wastage in UK homes and reverse years of cuts to domestic energy efficiency programmes. It is well know that current investment in domestic energy efficiency is insufficient to meet the UK Government’s legal fuel poverty and carbon reduction commitments. Reducing energy demand will also help to reduce the significant cost of decarbonising domestic heating.
“By using public infrastructure capital and supporting local authorities and agencies to deliver area-based energy efficiency schemes we could see huge benefits to people on low incomes condemned to living in unaffordable, unhealthy and inefficient homes in all tenures; alongside economic and environmental gains. Crucially, these gains would be amplified by prioritising assistance at people in or at most risk of fuel poverty whilst still benefiting every part of the country. The UK Government now need to show real urgency, accept NIC’s recommendations and make the most of the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review to secure the resources needed to deliver this necessary vision.
“Targeted infrastructure action can transform people’s lives. Realising the social value of investment can and should be an explicit priority for government.”
Notes to editors
- NEA works to end fuel poverty and tackle exclusion in the energy market across the UK and locally. As well as research, national and local advocacy; a key focus of NEA’s work is to deliver practical solutions to improve the quality of life for those living in fuel poverty. To achieve this we aim to improve access to energy and debt advice, provide training, support energy efficiency policies, local projects and co-ordinate other related services which can help change lives. NEA also provides the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Fuel Poverty & Energy Efficiency Group to raise awareness of the problem of fuel poverty and the policies needed to eradicate it.
- A number of other organisation have previously supported the push to make energy efficiency a top infrastructure priority: CBI: “A new government must act swiftly to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority”[Effective Policy Efficient Homes, Confederation if British Industry (CBI) 2015, p2]. Bright Blue: “The economic benefits of incentivising home energy improvements should be viewed in the same way as infrastructure investment, as they comfortably meet the government criteria ” [Better Homes: Incentivising Home Energy Improvements, Hall and Caldecott 2016, p27]. Policy Exchange: “Make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority” [Too Hot to Handle? How to decarbonise domestic heating, Howard and Bengherbi 2016, p.14]. The UK Government’s Committee on Fuel Poverty: “We believe that the benefits of designating energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority should be assessed, thereby potentially helping to unlock access to public infrastructure funding [A report on initial positions, Committee on Fuel Poverty 2016, p4] and ResPublica: “Energy Efficiency should be made a national infrastructure priority [After the Green Deal: Empowering people and places to improve their homes, recommendation 5, Rosenow and Sagar 2015].
- Whilst the UK Government and the National Infrastructure Commission recognise the benefits of enhancing energy efficiency, the delivery of home energy efficiency improvements has also dramatically slowed since 2012, particularly in England but also across the rest of the UK. The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is currently the only remaining domestic energy efficiency delivery mechanism in England. The Clean Growth Strategy pledged to extend the levy-funded scheme out to 2028 (with a review in 2022), however the ‘notional annual spend’ on the overall programme has reduced from the original £1.3bn to £640 million.
- According to the Committee on Fuel Poverty (CFP), the Climate Change Committee (CCC) and think tanks such as Policy Exchange; current resources are less than half of what is required to meet fuel poverty commitments in England alone. The latest CFP annual report published on 17th October 2017 estimated that if current remaining investment of the better targeted Energy Company Obligation programme is netted off beyond March 2019, £14.4 billion of additional funding will be required to install the necessary energy efficiency measures in fuel poor households in England. Currently only 10% of fuel poor households meet the Band C requirement in England and whilst progress is being made towards two fuel poverty strategy ‘milestones’, based on current delivery there will still be around 175,000 fuel poor households living in Band F and G properties in England by 2020. Many of the fuel poor households in the worst Band F and G properties will be suffering from the worst extremes of fuel poverty and have annual fuel needs well in excess of £1,000 per year above those not living in poverty.
- Earlier this month the UK Government released fuel poverty statistics for England which showed an increase in fuel poverty levels. The statistics also highlight that one in ten households in England are in fuel poverty and for single parent families this percentage is even higher; one in four. Link to the publication: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/719106/Fuel_Poverty_Statistics_Report_2018.pdf.