ACE response to DECC consultation on a new fuel poverty ‘strategy’ for England

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Campaigns, Consultation Responses

DECC

ACE has submitted a written response to the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s consultation on a new fuel poverty strategy for England. A strategy is widely held to encompass the following elements, elements which we would have hoped to see after four years of deliberation: identifying the nature and scale of the challenge at hand; setting goals to meet that challenge; laying out policies, programmes and actions to achieve those goals; and earmarking resources to execute the policies, programmes and actions. Instead, the consultation contained a series of important but ultimately small picture questions. In our response, we focused on answering big picture questions not posed in it.

In summary, the draft fuel poverty strategy proposes to set a target to ensure that as many fuel poor homes as is ‘reasonably practicable’ achieve a minimum standard of EPC Band C by 2030. ACE welcomes the Government’s recognition that setting a high standard for energy efficiency is the best long-term solution to tackling fuel poverty. However, we believe that all low income households – not just those that are fuel poor – should be targeted and that the Band C standard should be reached by 2025, not 2030. We also believe that the ‘reasonably practicable’ caveat should be removed or, at the very least, tightly defined so as to ensure that it cannot be used by future Governments as an excuse for failing to implement the Fuel Poverty Strategy. Finally, the interim targets of EPC Band E by 2020 and EPC Band D by 2025 should be removed, as it is far more efficient and effective to improve homes in one go straight to Band C, thus ‘fuel poverty proofing’ them and removing the necessity for expensive repeat visits.

Statement on Closure of Green Deal Home Improvement Fund

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Current Campaigns

jenny

ACE has today issued this statement on the overnight closure of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

Jenny Holland, Head of ACE’s Parliamentary Team, said:

“The runaway success of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund shows that there is no shortage of householder demand for energy efficiency improvements. However, in the wake of the decimation of ECO and the failure of the Green Deal to generate significant take-up, the last thing the energy efficiency industry needs is this kind of stop-start programme.

“As recently as Tuesday DECC announced that they were cutting the cashback for solid wall insulation from £6,000 to £4,000. Three days later – and with no warning – the scheme has been closed completely. This is bad news for an industry that is looking for policy certainty and consistency – not a relentless pattern of peaks and troughs in demand.

“To create industry confidence we need long-term policies and programmes that are not chopped and changed from one day to the next. Structural incentives like stamp duty and council tax incentives will help create the certainty for which industry is crying out.”

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

Government’s fuel poverty plans are too little, too late

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Current Campaigns

jenny

Today the Government published its long-awaited target for tackling fuel poverty1. The Association for the Conservation of Energy welcomes the recognition that upgrading the energy efficiency of our homes is the only long-term solution to fuel poverty. However, the Government’s target to bring all fuel poor homes up to Energy Performance Band C by 2030 leaves far too many vulnerable households waiting far too long for the help they need to bring their fuel bills down.
Jenny Holland, Head of ACE’s Parliamentary Team, said:

“We have long said that the only way to tackle fuel poverty at the scale required is to start by bringing all low income households up to EPC Band C by 2025. There should also be a longer term target to bring all low income households up to the standard of homes built today2 by 2030. But today the Government has said that it will wait till 2030 to enforce the Band C target, condemning our most vulnerable households to live in cold, unhealthy homes for much longer than necessary.

“In England today there are around 4.5 million households on low incomes who live in homes below Band C. By setting a target only for the 2.3 million deemed to be in fuel poverty, the Government is ignoring over 2 million households who are still far too poor to afford a Green Deal loan to upgrade their home.

“We are also concerned that having an interim target of Band E by 2020 means that action to retrofit homes to a high level of energy efficiency will not happen till well into the 2020s. We shouldn’t be installing single measures when we could be doing major upgrades all in one visit.

“Finally, we are very worried to read that the Government are only committing themselves to these targets ‘as far as reasonably practicable’. This is the get-out they used to wriggle out of their original legal duty to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016. Effectively it means that they only have to make a case that Government finances are tight to be able to wriggle out of their new target too.

“In responding to the consultation on the target, we will be urging the Government to go further, sooner and to make it clear that tackling the cold, leaky homes of our most vulnerable households is a top priority both now and in the future.”

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

Notes for editors:

  1. The link to the Government’s announcement is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cutting-the-cost-of-keeping-warm-to-tackle-fuel-poverty
  2. The standard of a new home built today is Energy Performance Certificate Band B.

 

Fuel poverty getting worse – and still no Government strategy for dealing with it

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns

jenny

Press release: for immediate release

Government figures released today show that both the scale and the severity of fuel poverty in England are getting worse. Despite this, a long-awaited new fuel poverty strategy – first promised before Easter – has still not appeared, and support for the fuel poor under the Energy Company Obligation has been significantly reduced.

DECC’s projections show that fuel poverty in England has increased over the last two years – from 2.28 million households in 2012 to 2.33 million this year. Alongside this, the so-called ‘fuel poverty gap’ has also widened – with fuel poor households now needing an average of £480 more a year in order to heat their homes properly. This is an increase of £37 on 2012.

Jenny Holland, Head of ACE’s Parliamentary Team, said:

“Fuel Poverty Minister Greg Barker has greeted today’s figures as showing ‘welcome progress’. We can’t agree with the Minister that over 2 million fuel poor households represents any kind of ‘progress’ – especially since the Government was supposed to eradicate the problem by 2016. It makes it all the more vital that DECC gets on with publishing its new fuel poverty strategy, which we hope will contain ambitious proposals for actually tackling the crisis.

“Energy efficiency is the only long-term solution to spiralling fuel bills and freezing cold homes. That’s why we believe the new strategy should commit to ensuring that no low income household has to live in a dangerously cold home by 2020 and that they all live in a highly energy efficient home by 2025.

“Instead of tackling the fuel poverty scandal, the Government have wasted four years redefining it to make it seem less severe. Meanwhile, their energy efficiency policies are comprehensively failing the fuel poor. Their new strategy must show real ambition, with a commitment to radical action to tackle the scourge of dangerously cold homes that make people ill.”

For more information, contact: Jenny Holland, jenny@ukace.org, 07875 62978

 

Joint statement issued today calling for tough, enforceable regulations in the private rented sector

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Current Campaigns, Private Rented Sector Campaign

PRS joint statement

ACE has today joined with nearly 30 other civil society organisations in issuing a joint statement calling on the Government to lay without delay tough, enforceable regulations to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard in the private rented sector.  The sector has the highest proportion of the very worst homes (those in EPC Bands F and G) – with nearly half the households living in them suffering from fuel poverty.  The Energy Act 2011 required the Government to bring forward regulations to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard, expected to be set at Band E.  However, these regulations look likely to be laid at least a year later than expected, leaving landlords and tenants alike facing uncertainty and confusion.  We are therefore calling on the Government to lay the regulations as soon as possible, to specify that the standard will be Band E in all circumstances and to ensure that exemptions will be kept to an absolute minimum.

PRS Joint Statement

DCLG: Review of Property Conditions in the Private-Rented Sector

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Consultation Responses, Perspective, Private Rented Sector Campaign

Department_for_Communities_and_Local_Government

ACE and Friends of the Earth have long been concerned about the poor standards of energy efficiency (and high concentrations of fuel poor and vulnerable households) in the private rented sector (PRS). The PRS is a rapidly growing part of the housing market. Of the 22.8m households in England in 2011, 4 million were privately rented (17.5% of the housing stock). This was an increase of 1.6m in only six years – and is the highest level since the early 1990s. The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued a review of property conditions in the PRS, and invited stakeholder responses; ACE and Friends of the Earth have provided theirs together.

Pickles tells Councils: no extra energy efficiency allowed

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Campaigns

ericpickles

This week, local government secretary Eric Pickles’ department will table a last minute amendment to a Cabinet Office deregulation bill. Its text is set out below. The objective is clear. It is to stop any English local authority from ever again being able to set any energy standards for any building even marginally better better than the ones Pickles allows. Or rather, than the volume house-builders are prepared grudgingly to accept.

What is most disgraceful is that the original “localism” legislation, which allowed progressive authorities to promote greater energy efficiency, was put onto the statute book as the Planning and Energy Act in 2008 by the current energy minister Michael Fallon when a backbencher. He took up this private members’ bill very much at the instigation of the then Conservative party chairman, then loudly embracing the “go green, vote blue” banner. And who was then the Conservative party chairman? None other than Eric Pickles himself.

Since he became Community Secretary in 2010, Pickles has time and again proved himself to be hostile to energy saving. He has delayed the introduction of the new building regulations by 12 months, to April 2014 rather than 2013, and lowered their energy saving requirements way below the levels consulted upon.

The 2008 Act has succeeded in delivering higher standards of energy efficiency in new buildings, and so reducing future running costs for occupants. Particularly well-known examples are the Greater London Authority, set to deliver 40% higher than Pickles’ standards in 2016, and Cambridge City Council .

Pickles has long been a poodle of the big housing developers, whose commercial interests to spend as little as possible installing measures to cut fuel bills have promoted this personal U-turn. And because new property owners will as a consequence be paying higher than needed fuel bills, he has also shown that his concern is to maximise the profits of the big energy companies, rather than helping hard-pressed households enjoy lower fuel bills.

The original Act was also trumpeted by Pickles as representing a victory for localism, permitting councils to include higher than minimum standards in their local plans. Now however Pickles believes that the man in Whitehall – in other words, him – always knows best. And local authorities should just do what they are told.

This government amendment means that, yet again, Eric Pickles’ Communities Department , by promoting this mean-minded little clause, is determined upon undermining the Prime Minister’s declared objective to make the UK the most energy efficient country in Europe.

He is not content with having watered down the new national energy efficiency building regulations, which come into force next month – a year late, and with just a 6% rather than the anticipated 25% improvement on the old requirements.

He is now denying any opportunity for more progressive councils to continue setting higher standards than his minimum.

Green Deal and ECO: Operational Issues – A View from the Industry

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Current Campaigns

jenny

Purpose of this paper

The genesis of this paper was the speech made by the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, the Rt Hon Edward Davey MP, at a reception on the Terrace of the House of Commons on September 3 hosted by this Association.

In his speech, he challenged the Association, on behalf of our industry, to put forward recommendations as to how the effectiveness of the Green Deal/ECO programmes might be improved immediately. This paper sets out a series of practical proposals regarding ways in which a series of operational issues should be addressed.

Government row-back on green homes could mean higher energy bills for consumers

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Campaigns

planning

The domestic renewable energy industry has condemned the Government’s suggestion to do away with the 2008 Planning and Energy Act. The Act, promoted by Michael Fallon, who is now Energy Minister, provides local authorities with the ability to set specific carbon, renewable energy and energy efficiency targets for new build properties (the so-called ‘Merton Rule’). The suggestion is part of the Government’s consultation on the Housing Standards Review, published yesterday.

The recent update to national Building Regulations did not impose strict enough carbon reduction targets to incentivise the integration of on-site renewables (such as solar energy systems, heat pumps and biomass boilers) into new properties. DCLG admitted this in its Impact Assessment. The Planning and Energy Act’s ‘Merton Rule’ is therefore the only policy tool explicitly incentivising on-site renewables in new homes, and must remain available to local authorities at least until Building Regulations are sufficiently strong to drive uptake of on-site renewables in new homes (which will not be before 2016 at the earliest).

Read the full joint press release by ACE, the Renewable Energy Association, the Micropower Council and the Solar Trade Association.

ACE statement in response to today’s fuel poverty announcement

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns

DECC

Responding to DECC’s announcement of a new fuel poverty definition for England and a new framework for future action on fuel poverty, ACE’s Head of Parliamentary Team Jenny Holland said:

“The Fuel Poverty Strategy produced pursuant to the WHECA 2000 placed a duty on the Government to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016. It has been apparent for many years that successive Governments have failed to do enough to be credibly on track to meet this target. In addition, by today adopting a relative definition of fuel poverty, it becomes impossible for them to meet the target as currently expressed.

“It has been our long-held view that fuel poverty-proofing our inefficient housing stock is the only permanent solution to the scourge of fuel poverty. We therefore welcome as a step in the right direction the Government’s stated intention to adopt a new target to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of the fuel poor. We shall be urging the Government to adopt a credible, adequately resourced and ambitious target – both in terms of the level of energy efficiency improvement and the number of homes to be improved.”