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

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Energy Efficiency as Infrastructure, Retrofit Incentives, Zero Carbon Buildings


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,, 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).

A jobs tragedy that could have been avoided

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Energy Efficiency as Infrastructure, Energy White Paper


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:

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

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns


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.

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

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns


On May 7, General Election day, ACE launched its seven key energy efficiency asks (#7ACEasks) for the next Parliament. They are (also available in a PDF):

1. A new Energy White Paper

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.  In the past UK energy policy has focused heavily on the supply-side – power stations and fuel distribution infrastructure – as opposed to reducing demand for energy.  We urgently need a new Energy White Paper that puts demand reduction on a level playing field with conventional supply-side measures.

2. Buildings energy efficiency as infrastructure investment

There is a gaping hole at the heart of the UK’s National Infrastructure Plan.  The most crucial element of our infrastructure – the bricks and mortar of the homes we live in and the places we work – is missing from the Plan’s list of priorities.  No other investment can achieve as much to help struggling householders and businesses, stimulate economic growth and create jobs in every constituency in the UK.  As part of this, we are calling for:

  • home energy efficiency to be made a top infrastructure priority;
  • investment to be supported with a long-term revenue stream;
  • 2 million low income households to be made highly energy efficient by 2020; and all 6m such households to be brought up to this standard by 2025.

3. The public sector must take a leadership role

Both national and local government are significant owners, lessees and occupiers of non-domestic buildings – and therefore have a huge role to play in helping to drive the market for energy efficiency.  The new Government should start by making it mandatory for public bodies to procure energy efficient buildings.  The energy performance of these buildings must be clearly displayed to demonstrate that the public sector is leading by example.

4. Zero Carbon standard for new homes and commercial buildings

The last Government proposed to dilute the previously agreed Zero Carbon standard for new homes.  This proposal must be reversed, and a genuine Zero Carbon Homes standard must be introduced via Building Regulations in 2016.  The proposed exemption for small sites is not justified and must also be withdrawn.  For commercial buildings, there is still no clear definition of what Zero Carbon means, nor is there a clear trajectory towards the 2019 target.  As an urgent priority, the new Government must work with industry to clarify the definition and to set out the timeline to 2019.

5. Minimum energy efficiency standards for existing buildings

ACE successfully campaigned for a minimum standard (Energy Performance Certificate Band E) to be introduced in the Private Rented Sector from 2018.  Unfortunately the new regulations allow landlords to be exempted from the standard if they can’t make the necessary improvements without incurring upfront cost.  This loophole must be removed to prevent a two-tiered approach and huge administrative complexity.  In addition the new Government should:

  • broaden the scope of the minimum standard to include houses in multiple occupation, which are often home to our most vulnerable citizens;
  • consult swiftly on introducing minimum standards in the owner-occupier and non-domestic sectors;
  • set out a trajectory, giving the market adequate notice, for tightening existing and future minimum standards.

6. Incentives for energy efficiency retrofits

In order to stimulate the market, we must introduce systemic incentives to encourage the able-to-pay to invest in retrofits.  These should include:

  • revenue-neutral stamp duty and/or council tax adjustments that reward more energy efficient homes.  These would lead to between 650,000 and 1.75m additional retrofits every year;
  • revenue-neutral business rate adjustments that encourage small business owners to invest in improvements.

7. Improving access to finance for energy efficiency measures

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.  This initiative should include:

  • increasing the attractiveness of Green Deal finance by reducing the interest rates on offer through Government underwriting;
  • enabling a wider range of lenders to access this low-interest capital and offer it to their customers;
  • banks providing highly competitive loans (underwritten by Government) to their small and medium-sized business customers for the installation of energy efficiency measures;
  • increasing awareness of, and trust in, energy services and third party finance offerings to all businesses, and encouraging these businesses to consider funding energy efficiency investment from sources other than in-house funds.

For more information, contact Jenny Holland, Head of Parliamentary Team at

A first step for minimum energy standards for rented homes, but not far-reaching enough

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Campaigns, Minimum Standards for Existing Buildings


Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey is finally laying regulations before Parliament that are intended to bring the coldest and leakiest private-rented homes up to a minimum Energy Performance Certificate of Band E by April 2018. Having long campaigned for minimum standards for the sector, we welcome this overdue breakthrough. This campaign has had to overcome considerable resistance to minimum standards, and we agree with what Ed Davey says in the Guardian today:

“Not everyone in this government wants more regulation. But in energy efficiency, regulations play a crucial role.”

But today’s development does not go far enough. Given Britain’s status as the ‘Cold Man of Europe’ (see the Guardian’s infographic, based on our earlier briefing), and that energy efficiency support for households, particularly fuel poor households, has collapsed this winter, we cannot stress enough that the regulations have got to go further in at least two important respects (see our response to the domestic PRS consultation for more):

  • Guardian © 2014

    Guardian © 2014

    The minimum standard should not have been based on the principle of ‘no net or upfront costs’ to landlords. It is quite wrong, as a matter of both law and practice, that a regulatory framework should be dependent upon a set of financing mechanisms – i.e. the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation – that may not even exist in 2018. We therefore believe that all properties within scope of the regulations should be required to meet a minimum standard of EPC Band E, up to a maximum spend of £6,000. More broadly, all domestic private rented properties should be within scope of the minimum standard regulations, not just those with a valid EPC.

  • Government should have today set a trajectory for increasing the minimum standard to EPC D in 2022 and to EPC C in 2026. An EPC rating of E is only the best of the worst, and a trajectory would have encouraged landlords to go further in one go, which in countless properties is easy and sensible to do.

We look forward to working with the next government on making sure these regulations become as meaningful and forward-looking as they can and should be to match the challenge our housing stock and fuel poverty poses.

Government betrays Britain’s fuel poor

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Energy Efficiency as Infrastructure

  • 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.

ACE joins call on Chancellor for emergency fuel poverty funding

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Energy Efficiency as Infrastructure


ACE has today joined other charities, fuel poverty groups and industry in calling on the Chancellor to take immediate action by announcing additional ‘emergency’ funding for heating and insulation measures in the Autumn Statement on 3rd December. The funds would help reduce the thousands of vulnerable people who would otherwise die of cold related illnesses this winter.

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

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Campaigns, Consultation Responses, Energy Efficiency as Infrastructure


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, Improved Access to Finance, Retrofit Incentives


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,, 07875 629781

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

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Campaigns, Energy Efficiency as Infrastructure


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,, 07875 629781

Notes for editors:

  1. The link to the Government’s announcement is here:
  2. The standard of a new home built today is Energy Performance Certificate Band B.