ECO3 consultation concluded- massive opportunity wasted

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have responded to a consultation on their flagship ‘energy efficiency’ policy for domestic homes in the UK called the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO).

Claire Perry in her Ministerial Foreword states in her first paragraph:

“The Clean Growth Strategy set out our ambition to transition to a low carbon economy, including our aspiration for all homes to reach EPC Band C by 2035 where practical, cost effective and affordable.”

Elmhurst are pleased to see the strategy and vision to set a decent energy efficiency standard for all UKs homes. It is why we advocated for the new ECO scheme to incentivise looking for the worst performing homes first and focus on improving them.

The Minister then states:                                                                                                                                            

“The ECO3 scheme, that will run until March 2022, will focus entirely on low income and vulnerable households, helping to meet the Government’s fuel poverty commitments.”

This is a great ambition, unfortunately as Elmhurst responded the limited funds will not necessarily go to the worst homes first. We stand by our previous statement that the policy is now a mixed bag of complex rules and bureaucracy that can’t ascertain the improvements that it makes to people’s homes. The policy is soley measured on the number of measures installed, not on the impact it makes to people’s homes, warmth and comfort.

We are extremely disappointed as the Governments Clean Growth Strategy was so conclusive in its ambition to move as many homes as possible to band C on the EPC by 2030 (fuel poor) and everyone else by 2035. ECO was to play a major part in solving this conundrum. 

With so much opportunity it is a shame that government policy appears to confuse the picture by only using benefits to ascertain occupant eligibility for improvement measures. The consultation states its aims to remove people from fuel poverty and yet makes little attempt to focus on our least energy efficient homes.

Elmhurst advocated for a simple inflator to be added to E, F and G rated homes to try and incentivise the installation of measures in the worst homes first. We are pleased that they have listened to our suggestion and placed an inflator into the ‘deemed scores’ for F and G rated homes, unfortunately this is only in the ‘Local Authority Flex’ segment of ECO, not for all homes.

All utility providers (not just the big ones) should be taxed an amount per customer. This money should be moved away from the utility companies and its regulator (Ofgem) and implemented by an independent mechanism. The current system is far too complex, bureaucratic and actually puts families last; it put pressure on the process to only install measures that have some margin for the installers.

If we as a country are serious about moving families out of fuel poverty, we must start with the worst performing (coldest, most expensive to heat) homes first, having a scheme that does not achieve this is madness and something which will be regretted in 3 years time (end of ECO3) when questions are asked what improvement has it made on the strategic goal and the answer is not known!

Government Response:

Article Published: 20th July 2018

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