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Please ask Ballot MPs to adopt Leasehold Reform (Energy Efficiency) Bill

In today’s House of Commons Private Members’ Ballot, some fortunate MPs got the chance to introduce a Bill of their own in Parliament.  ACE – along with, among others, the Energy Saving Trust and the London Association of Local Energy Officers – is promoting the Leasehold Reform (Energy Efficiency) Bill, and we’d be grateful for your help in getting an MP to take it up!  The Bill would sweep away outdated provisions in property leases to enable freeholders and leaseholders alike to make their homes warmer, healthier and more comfortable.  Here is a full briefing about the Bill.  And here is a list of the successful MPs for you to use.  Thank you!

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Greater London Authority,Private Rented Sector

A Warm Deal for London’s Renters

The need for a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard

It is a shocking fact that hundreds of thousands of London’s renters are shivering in damp, draughty homes they can’t afford to heat. This problem could be solved by effective minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector – but national standards are weak and difficult to enforce, leaving households at the mercy of their landlords.

ACE is asking the next Mayor to stand up for London’s renters and pledge to introduce a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes, of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2025.  See our full ask here.

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Our response to HMRC’s consultation on reduced rate of VAT for Energy Saving Materials

ACE has submitted its response to HMRC’s consultation on proposed changes to the reduced rate of VAT for the installation of energy saving materials in compliance with a recent decision by the European Court. In the summer of 2012, ACE took the lead in convening a broad coalition of interested organisations who were concerned about the implications of the Reasoned Opinion sent by the European Commission to the UK Government to the effect that its 5% reduced rate of VAT on energy saving materials went beyond the scope of the 2006 European VAT Directive. Over subsequent years we have led the coalition in:

  • encouraging the UK Government to respond robustly to the Commission in defence of its reduced rate;
  • providing the Government with a detailed report setting out the reasons we believed that the UK’s reduced rate did in fact form part of a social policy;
  • liaising closely with officials both before and after the CJEU judgment, setting out our view that the UK Government should use the vires in both Category 10 and Category 10(a) of Annex III of the VAT Directive to retain as much as possible of the reduced rate.

Notwithstanding a few concerns, we broadly welcome the Government’s proposals.

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Press Release: ‘Scandalous’ – winter deaths surge, but Chancellor slashes help for cold homes by 42%

Press Release, for immediate release

ACE’s reaction to Excess Winter Deaths figures and Comprehensive Spending Review

On the same day that official figures reveal that last winter’s Excess Winter Deaths were at their highest level for 15 years, ACE has described as ‘scandalous’ the Chancellor’s announcement of a 42% cut in the help available to households living in dangerously cold homes. They have also expressed disappointment that, despite allocating £100 billion for infrastructure projects, Mr Osborne has chosen to spend not one penny of this pot to make the UK housing stock more energy efficient.

Jenny Holland, Head of the Parliamentary Team, said:

“The appalling state of our housing stock is one of the key causes of excess winter deaths, which today’s figures show surged last winter to their highest level in 15 years.  Yet despite this, the Chancellor has today ignored industry-wide pleas to release infrastructure funding for an energy efficiency programme.  Instead, he has announced that the Energy Company Obligation – the only remaining help for householders living in cold homes – will be slashed to £640m a year from 2017, a drop of 42% on annual ECO spending to date.

”The Chancellor boasts that households benefitting from the ECO are expected to save £300 on their bills. But these lucky few will amount to just 200,000 per year. The other 5 million poorest households who struggle with their basic living costs won’t even get a look in until April 2022.”

In addition, while welcoming the proposal to build 40,000 ‘affordable’ homes by 2020, ACE points out that, having ditched the zero carbon homes standard earlier in the year, the Chancellor has needlessly saddled these homes with higher fuel bills.  ACE also describes as a missed opportunity the Chancellor’s refusal to announce variable rates of stamp duty based on a home’s energy efficiency.

Jenny Holland continued:

“It’s a bit rich for the Chancellor to trumpet these new homes as ‘affordable’ when he was the one who, without warning, ditched the zero carbon homes standard in July.  This means that these new homes will be needlessly saddled with higher running costs – or householders will be forced to have expensive and messy retrofits at some later stage to bring their homes up to scratch.

“Meanwhile, the Chancellor has again shown a willingness to adjust stamp duty as a policy lever, increasing it by 3% for buy-to-let purchasers.  But he has once again failed to incentivise energy efficiency investment by introducing a revenue-neutral adjustment to stamp duty based on homes’ energy performance.”

For more information, contact: Jenny Holland, jenny@ukace.org, 07875 629781

PDF version of press release

Notes for Editors:

The new Energy Company Obligation, to run for 5 years from April 2017, will cost £640m per year.  That represents a 42% reduction in the ECO’s actual expenditure to date (£1.1bn per annum on average over the 2.5 years to the end of June 2015, according to the latest available official statistics).

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Our response to APPG for the private-rented sector’s inquiry into energy efficiency in private-rented housing

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for the private-rented sector launched an inquiry into energy efficiency in private-rented housing. Along with Friends of the Earth and Citizens Advice, ACE led a widely supported civil society campaign in 2010/2011, which led to the 2011 Energy Act placing a duty on the Secretary of State to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented housing from April 2018 at the latest. We were also a member of the DECC advisory working group which met throughout 2013 to advise Ministers on the detail of the regulations that would be needed to bring the minimum standard into force.

The group’s inquiry follows the government’s decision not to renew the landlord energy savings allowance in the March budget. This had originally been introduced to encourage landlords to improve the energy efficiency of the properties they let but was dropped because of low take up.

Announcing the inquiry, the group’s chairman, Oliver Colvile, member of parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport said: “With the winter months just around the corner, improving the energy efficiency of rented housing is a crucial issue.

“The group’s inquiry will look to develop new ideas that will support landlords to meet their new target; save tenants money on their bills and help improve standards. I would encourage all those with an interest to submit their suggestions.”

Read ACE’s response to the inquiry.

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A jobs tragedy that could have been avoided

Yesterday saw the sad announcement that energy efficiency and renewables employers Mark Group and Climate Energy had gone into administration. Many hundreds of people have lost their jobs. This is a direct consequence of the uncertain and unstable investment environment created by Government. A long-term policy framework is now DECC’s stated aim – and the newly announced Infrastructure Commission has a remit to consider energy infrastructure needs. But for these companies this is too little, far too late. Since May the Government has jettisoned policy after policy – playing havoc with industry’s confidence and longer term expectations.

While we believe it is possible – and necessary – to rebuild investor and supply chain confidence, without swift and clear indications of a stable, long-term policy framework, there is a significant risk that the UK will be written off as a place to invest in energy efficiency and renewables.  This would mean tens of thousands of jobs forgone, energy security undermined, competitiveness reduced, fuel poverty exacerbated and CO2 reductions made more expensive.

Current Government policy is recasting energy efficiency as Cinderella, whereas it is – as the International Energy Agency puts it – the First Fuel.  If we are to avoid further tragedies such as yesterday’s and reap energy efficiency’s rich rewards, it is high time for the whole Government to treat it as such.

Related reading / listening:

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budget,European Court of Justice,Treasury,VAT

Chancellor urged to confirm there will be no VAT changes on energy saving materials till Budget 2016 at the earliest

An ACE-convened business coalition has today written to Chancellor George Osborne in the wake of the judgment by the European Court of Justice that the UK’s 5% reduced VAT rate on professionally installed energy saving materials breaches the 2006 VAT Directive.  The letter highlights the unhelpful nature of the judgment for those industries involved in the supply and installation of the measures potentially affected.  It also urges the Chancellor to make clear in next week’s Budget that any changes to the reduced VAT rate will be deferred until Budget 2016 at the earliest.

Read the letter here.

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ACE’s Seven Energy Efficiency Asks for the 2015-2020 Parliament

On May 7, General Election day, ACE launched its seven key energy efficiency asks (#7ACEasks) for this Parliament:

1. A new energy policy framework

The cheapest, safest and most secure form of energy is the energy we do not use. That is why energy efficiency must be allowed to compete on equal terms with new supply capacity. Energy efficiency means the construction of fewer new generating plants and reduced network infrastructure investment combined with greater resilience and lower carbon emissions. DECC estimated in 2012 that investment in socially cost-effective energy efficiency to 2020 would save energy equivalent to the output of 22 power stations. In the past, UK energy policy has focused heavily on the supply side as opposed to reducing demand for energy. We urgently need a new policy framework – possibly even a new Energy White Paper – that puts demand reduction on a level playing field with supply-side measures.

2. Buildings energy efficiency as infrastructure

The UK’s current National Infrastructure Plan has a gaping hole at its heart: the most fundamental element of our infrastructure – the fabric of the homes we live in and the places we work – is missing. Energy efficiency in buildings should be made a top national infrastructure priority, because no other investment can achieve as much to cut costs for households and businesses, stimulate economic growth and create jobs in every constituency in the UK.

3. A leadership role for the public sector

Public sector organisations, at the national and at the local level, are significant owners, lessees and occupiers of non-domestic buildings, and can therefore drive the market for energy efficiency in existing non-domestic buildings. Therefore the public sector should demand, and invest in, high levels of energy efficiency in its buildings and should clearly display the energy performance of its buildings to demonstrate to others the progress being made.

4. Zero carbon new build

The pause in the trajectory towards zero carbon new build must not remain in force for any significant period. Not only would this mean lock-in of unnecessary energy use and emissions as Government attempts to accelerate new construction, but also we need to comply with EU Nearly Zero Energy Buildings requirements that will come into force for new public buildings in 2019 and for all other new buildings from 2021. A new trajectory is urgently needed to re-engage the supply chain in innovating to cost-effectively deliver highly efficient new buildings.

5. Minimum energy efficiency standards for existing buildings

The clearest, strongest policy framework to support growth in the market for energy efficiency investments would be the introduction of more comprehensive minimum energy efficiency standards for all existing buildings. However, it is likely that this will remain a politically unacceptable option for some time. Therefore, we need to focus on expanding and strengthening existing standards, whilst at the same time learning from developments in Scotland, where there appears to be greater political will in this area.

6. Incentives for energy efficiency retrofits

Simple financial incentives such as grant programmes stimulate a temporary upturn in investment levels, but do not support the growth of a self-sustaining market for energy efficiency. The transient nature of such incentives also causes problems as the delivery capacity needed fluctuates significantly over relatively short time periods. Therefore we are pushing for longer-term, more systemic incentives that stimulate steady and sustained growth in investment by making energy efficiency retrofits as ‘normal’ to consumers as an office refit or a new kitchen.

7. Improved access to finance for energy efficiency investments

Access to competitive finance for energy efficiency investments is critically important. We therefore need a concerted and sustained initiative, led by Government, to enable lenders and borrowers to understand the attractiveness of energy efficiency as an investment, and to unlock the use of personal and business loans and mortgages.

For more information, contact Jenny Holland, Head of Parliamentary Team at jenny@ukace.org.

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Campaigns

Jenny Holland – Campaigns Director

Jenny is Campaigns Director at ACE. In fourteen years in the role, she has overseen a number of high profile campaigns that have led to major changes in the law on energy efficiency. These have included several Private Members’ Bills and key amendments to Government Bills, including the introduction of a minimum energy efficiency standard in the private rented sector. A Cambridge graduate and qualified solicitor, she has worked in the political arena for two decades, including stints working in both the European and UK Parliaments. Jenny is in regular demand as a speaker at conferences in the UK and mainland Europe. She is often called upon to give evidence to UK Parliamentary Committees and has sat on a number of Government advisory bodies. She is currently Chair of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.

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Energy Bill Revolution,Energy Company Obligation,Fuel Poverty

Government betrays Britain’s fuel poor

  • Political spin a ‘cover up’ for 80% decrease in help to make  cold homes more energy efficient
  • 4 million poor families left out in the cold with no support in next decade
  • Energy Bill Revolution demands that the next Government makes home energy efficiency the UK’s priority infrastructure spending priority

February 3, 2015 (London): Inefficient and unambitious Government programmes have resulted in a dramatic 80% decrease in help available for those with freezing homes.

Fuel poor households will  be some of the worst hit, with the number of major energy efficiency delivered dropping from 112,000 in the winter of 2011/12 to a mere 22,000 this winter, a new report has revealed.  The big drop occurred after the introduction of two new energy efficiency programmes, the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation.

The research by the Association for the Conservation of Energy, commissioned by The Energy Bill Revolution, the world’s largest anti-fuel poverty campaign group found that, at current rates, less that 30% of 6 million poorly insulated low income homes will receive energy efficiency support in the next decade.

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