Local partnerships key to retrofitting UK homes

Local partnerships are needed to deliver widespread home energy retrofit across the UK, says consumer group Which? The organisation argues that successive governments have failed to make homes more energy efficient and says a series of actions are needed

Its new report, A local approach to energy efficiency highlights actions for the next government including:

  • A switch to a long-term local approach: partly funded by a long-term levy on energy suppliers and paid into a central pot. Funds would be allocated by a central administrator to local authorities for them to lead the roll-out of energy saving measures from 2017. This could include partnerships, for example between councils and GPs or social landlords, to use local knowledge to maximise consumer take up.
  • An overhaul of the Green Deal: With 399 plans taken out on average each month since it launched – around 9,600 in total – Which? is arguing for fundamental improvements and an immediate evaluation of the scheme.
  • A decade-long cross-government plan: Which? wants to see clear insulation targets and delivery plans extending over the next decade. Taking action on energy efficiency needs a joined up approach across government including Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the Treasury, Department of Health, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and devolved administrations.
  • Better cost control and value for money: Which? wants to see greater scrutiny and oversight of the money spent from consumers’ bills on energy efficiency. It wants to change the supplier obligation to a fixed levy on bills, overseen by government, which it says would give more transparency and certainty about the costs consumers pay for green measures.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said: “With millions of homes still not insulated, energy efficiency is a collective failure of successive governments. The next government must grab this issue by the scruff of the neck and commit to an aggressive energy efficiency strategy as soon as it takes power.”

Richard Twinn, policy and public affairs officer at the UK Green Building Council, said: “Which? is right to suggest we need a local approach to improve home energy efficiency, as the Green Deal Communities programme – with its street-by-street vision – has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy outlook for the coalition’s flagship scheme. Fundamental changes to current policies such as such as a reduced interest rate for the Green Deal and refocusing ECO [the Energy Company Obligation] on tackling fuel poverty would also give a much needed boost to home retrofit.

“The real game changer however would be for government to back energy efficiency with infrastructure funds to create a programme that would not only transform the UK’s cold and draughty homes, but create jobs and make additional money for Treasury.”

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