New government statistics reveal major crash in home energy efficiency improvements

New UK Government statistics have revealed a major crash in home energy efficiency improvements.  Fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action (NEA), says the number of insulation measures delivered in the last months of 2018 was the lowest since 2008 and the number of boilers installed was the lowest since the Government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), began in 2013. Influential MPs have also reacted to the drop off in energy saving measures with dismay and urged the UK Government to respond in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). 

 Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of National Energy Action (NEA) comments:

“Last winter saw a record 17,000 excess deaths caused by cold homes. Despite knowing energy efficiency saves money, carbon and lives, the number of insulation measures and boilers installed is falling off a cliff and very little support will have reached those most in need this winter. England continues to be the only UK nation without a government-funded programme. We urgently need to stop relying solely on energy suppliers to help the most vulnerable; this is a chronic public health crisis and government also has to step-up”.

The Government statistics follows the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) highlighting earlier this week that less than 3% of their recommended level of insulation measures had been delivered within the second carbon budget, with 4/5 of the high-level indicators for buildings not met. The CCC also published a new report on housing which calls for far more action to deliver on domestic energy efficiency across the UK. Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, who are currently holding an inquiry into energy efficiency, added:

“Improving the energy efficiency of buildings plays a crucial role in tackling fuel poverty and is a cost-effective way to reduce our carbon emissions. Despite this, the Government’s statistics underline the cold reality that the current rate of energy efficiency improvements is far too slow. The BEIS Committee’s inquiry on energy efficiency is examining whether the Government is showing enough ambition in helping to tackle fuel poverty and in encouraging homeowners, businesses and landlords to adopt energy saving measures. Our inquiry comes a critical time; ahead of the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and the UK Government revising the Fuel Poverty Strategy which will both take place this year”.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP and Co-chair of the All-Party Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, which aims to raise awareness of the problem of fuel poverty and the policies needed to eradicate it, said:

“It’s incredibly worrying to see the delivery of energy efficiency measures taking a nosedive. With thousands of people dying in cold homes each winter and even more living in fuel poverty, the Government’s failure to insulate homes is a dereliction of its duty to vulnerable people. To keep people warm and safe, cut bills and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to avoid climate catastrophe, Ministers must urgently make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and embark on a major programme of investment.”

NEA and the UK Government’s Committee on Fuel Poverty have said that although welcome, funding from the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme and the recently amended regulations which require private rented landlords to upgrade the least efficient rented homes will not be sufficient on their own to meet fuel poverty requirements.

The Committee have recommended a new Treasury funded £1.0 billion scheme to run from 2019 to 2022, which will help meet the UK Government’s fuel poverty milestones and final statutory target. In their recent annual report, they also recommended improving the targeting of the Winter Fuel Payment to help those most in need pay their energy bills and fund energy efficiency measures. David Blakemore, the Chair of the Committee on Fuel Poverty concluded:

“The Committee on Fuel Poverty is stressing the need for additional funding to help meet the Government’s 2020 Fuel Poverty Strategy milestone”. 

NEA have released the findings as part of their Warm and Safe Homes Campaign, an annual winter initiative, focusing on the need for people to be able to stay warm in their homes.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. For further information on the detail of this release contact Peter Smith, Director of Policy and Research at NEA (peter.smith@nea.org.uk or call 07595 780 893).
  2. NEA works across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that everyone in the UK can afford to live in a warm, dry home. For more information about visit https://www.nea.org.uk/ and https://www.nea.org.uk/campaigns-policy/wash-2018/.
  3. Caroline Lucas is a Green Party MP and Co-chair of the All-Party Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency. For information visit: http://www.fpeeg.org.uk/.
  4. Rachel Reeves is a Labour MP and is the Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. The BEIS Committee are currently holding an inquiry into energy efficiency. For more information visit: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/business-energy-industrial-strategy/inquiries/parliament-2017/energy-efficiency-17-19/.
  5. The Household Energy Efficiency statistics were released on Thursday 21st February by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to view the statistics visit: https://data.gov.uk/dataset/1656fb7d-1ca3-462d-a11b-8078acc33275/household-energy-efficiency-statistics. The release includes measures installed under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal schemes for October 2018. Whilst the new phase of ECO is now live, it is anticipated that very little support will have been provided over this winter (particularly for heating measures) given the hiatus to get the ECO regulations and guidance approved and the relative ease by which suppliers can now meet their obligations.
  6. The CCC published their assessment of key indicators required to meet Carbon Budget 2 in the non-traded sectors on Tuesday 19th February. They noted that 4/5 of their high-level indicators had not been met and insulation levels fell very significantly following the introduction of the Green Deal policy in 2013. See: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Letter-from-Lord-Deben-to-Claire-Perry-Surplus-emissions.pdf.
  7. David Blakemore is the Chair of the Committee on Fuel Poverty (CFP), an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The CFP advises the UK Government on the effectiveness of policies aimed at reducing fuel poverty, and encourage greater co-ordination across the organisations working to reduce fuel poverty. The Committee noted in their most recent annual report there is now a large gap between the investment needed to deliver warm and efficient homes, and the Government’s stated ambition to do so. To download the annual report visit: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/754361/Committee_on_Fuel_Poverty_Annual_Report_2018.pdf.
  8. Ahead of the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), the CFP, NEA and a wide range of organisations are urging the UK Government to make domestic energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and introduce a new Clean Growth Fuel Poverty Challenge Fund. They say the fund would provide necessary central investment to meet the statutory fuel poverty energy efficiency targets and related milestones which are laid out in the Fuel Poverty Strategy for England and were recommitted to in last year’s Clean Growth Strategy and the Conservative Manifesto.
  9. National Energy Action are also members of the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG), which commissioned a milestone report [Affordable Warmth, Clean Growth – Action Plan for a Comprehensive Buildings Energy Infrastructure Programme ] setting out a vision for a Buildings Energy Infrastructure Programme, prioritising cold homes and low income households on the path for all homes to achieve the EPC C standard by 2035. The vision includes the goal for all low income households’ homes in the UK to be upgraded to an EPC C standard by 2030.
  10. To achieve this vision Frontier Economics recommended funding a coordinated programme of locally-led, area-based schemes supporting low income households with home energy performance improvements in every local authority area – alongside a UK-wide referrals network to nationally available ‘safety net’ grant support for households who miss out on, or cannot wait for, area-based schemes to reach them. This combination of area schemes and safety net has been the hallmark of energy efficiency delivery for low income households in the devolved nations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in recent years.

 

 

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