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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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Display Energy Certificates,Energy Performance Certificates,European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive,Zero Carbon Homes

Our response to the European Commission’s consultation on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

This consultation forms part of the evaluation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Under the terms of the Directive, the Commission is required to carry out this evaluation by 1 January 2017, with assistance from a Committee of Member States’ representatives. The evaluation should reflect the experience gained and progress made since the adoption of the Directive. If necessary, the Commission should make proposals on the basis of the evaluation.

The evaluation also follows on from the Energy Efficiency Communication of July 2014, which indicated that additional measures to be introduced to improve energy efficiency would need to primarily address the energy efficiency of buildings and products if progress is to be made by 2030. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive is the main legislative instrument in force at EU level covering the energy efficiency of buildings.

With a primary focus the UK energy efficiency market, our response to the consultation highlights: the uncertainty following the abandonment of the zero carbon trajectory; the missed opportunities with respect to driving higher rates of renovation; the low level of compliance with EPBD’s provisions and the virtual absence of enforcement; the question marks hanging over Display Energy Certificates; the need to make EPC data more widely accessible; and the need to plug skills and capacity shortages in the energy services and energy auditing sectors.

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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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Energy Company Obligation,Supplier Commitment

Delivering the best deal for energy consumers: options for the next supplier commitment

For the benefit of consumers and the supply chain, and unlike the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), longevity, simplicity and flexibility must be at the heart of the next supplier commitment’s design (read full position paper). Its objective must be to serve as an important and stable plank to meeting carbon budgets within a wider framework of policies and measures that support a nationwide transformation of the housing stock through staged deep retrofits. It should be capable of delivering a wide range of measures to a large number of households, and drive the best possible outcome for consumers by lowering their bills and improving their health and comfort, both in the medium and long-term. A separate and new fuel poverty programme should be established alongside it, delivered in every locality by working with the devolution agenda and preferably funded through public expenditure. This must be fit for the purpose of meeting England’s new fuel poverty targets and flexible enough to mesh with existing fuel poverty programmes in Scotland and Wales. The next supplier commitment (SC) needs to:

  • Inter-operate with a long-term policy framework for low carbon housing (which is currently lacking with respect to finance, structural tax incentives (e.g. Stamp Duty, Council Tax) and regulation) – which must also be characterised by longevity, simplicity and flexibility
  • Be set in lifetime carbon terms over a five-year time horizon, to 2022, with the five-year time horizon extended every 2.5 years and transparent penalties for non-compliance
  • Be required to satisfy customers, not respond to tick boxes in over-long and costly paper trails
  • Include the able-to-pay and have a robust but broad distributional safeguard for fairness
  • Use deemed carbon scores to enable consistent and stable offers to be made to consumers while reducing administrative cost
  • Deliver and employ individual home retrofit roadmaps to make staged deep retrofit a reality
  • Not constrain any part of the SC to only particular measure classes (such as the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation and insulation) and be allowed to install any Green Deal approved measure across insulation, heating and controls, lighting and renewables
  • Deliver an ambitious solid wall insulation programme with a minimum of 500,000 installations for the first five-year period, concentrating on houses and guided by quality of installation
  • Include mandatory minimum delivery through brokerage, the level of which should be kept under review

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Energy Efficient Buildings,Zero Carbon Homes

ACElogo

New hub needed to focus on existing buildings

One of the great triumphs of genuine private/public co-operation has been the work of the non-profit Zero Carbon Hub. Ever since its formation in 2008, it has proved to be the acknowledged entity to which everyone turns – companies and Ministers alike – to consider how best to progress towards ensuring that only the most energy and carbon-efficient new buildings are constructed.

But the vast majority of the buildings we shall be living and working in forty years from now have already been built. Precious few of these are even vaguely zero carbon; most waste bucketfuls of energy every day. By common consent we have one of the oldest, and certainly one of the least energy efficient, building stocks in the entire western world.

It is clear that one of the main challenges over the ensuing decades will continue to be to dramatically improve the energy performance of these buildings. This will need to happen at a rate long aspired to. But – as has been shown in the case of the flagship Green Deal Finance policy – right now falling woefully short of even its cost-effective (let alone technical) potential.

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Statement on Closure of Green Deal Home Improvement Fund

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

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Energy Efficiency,Energy Efficiency Commitment,Energy Efficient Buildings,Energy Performance Certificates,Stamp Duty

Buy a home and get money back from the government

The Prime Minister was unequivocal. This summer his Government will introduce a new incentive scheme to encourage home movers to invest in energy saving measures.

At his most recent monthly cross-examination by House of Commons Committee chairs, he quite specifically described it as a “stamp duty discount for people who take action to improve the energy performance and energy efficiency of their homes” (Q49).

I only wish that this description had been accurate. Sadly it is not. Because formally the new scheme is not directly related to the stamp duty transaction. And, due to that, it can be argued there is no requirement whatsoever for the key professional groups involved in the buying and selling of homes – specifically, solicitors and licensed conveyancers, and estate agents – to inform anybody about the new scheme.

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Edward Davey,Energy Company Obligation,Green Deal

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

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.

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EC wants to scrap 5% VAT on energy saving goods

This decision from the European Commission is extraordinary. The UK government has been providing lower rate VAT on relevant energy efficiency goods and services for over a decade. It is a complete mystery as to why they should after so many years be trying to quadruple VAT rates. This would mean taxing energy conservation at four times the rate of energy consumption, a market distortion that the EC should be fighting, not encouraging. Our government needs to fight this tooth and nail.

 

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European Commission,European Union,Tax

DG Taxation: Consultation on existing legislation on VAT reduced rates

ACE has submitted a written response to the European Commission, DG Taxation Consultation on “Review of existing legislation on VAT reduced rates”.

The EC’s stated aim is to create a “simpler, more efficient and more robust” VAT system in the EU, partly by removing certain reduced rates which are believed to “constitute an obstacle to the proper functioning of the internal market”.

The EC has already conducted some evaluation of the existing VAT structure, and this consultation focuses on key areas that require further consideration, including the reduced VAT rate for certain energy products.

Download ACE’s consultation response here:  Consultation Response: VAT reduced rates

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