Last edited 05 Jan 2015

An End to Cold Homes - Labour's energy efficiency green paper

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Caroline Flint MP, announced plans to tackle cold homes at the Labour Party Conference in September 2014. The plans aim to upgrade at least 5 million homes over 10 years and save the average household more than £270 a year on their energy bill.

Labour suggest that energy bills in the least energy efficient properties are over £1,000 a year higher than homes with good insulation and propose increasing home insulation, delivering permanent savings on energy bills and making the homes of millions of people warmer.

On 10 November 2014, the Labour Party published An End to Cold Homes - Labour's energy efficiency green paper setting out more detailed proposals for consultation.

The report claims government policy has been ineffective, suggesting that, ‘Just 2,581 households have had measures installed under the Green Deal since its launch nearly two years ago, and the Energy Company Obligation has resulted in a significant fall in the installation of energy efficiency improvements and will leave nine out of ten fuel poor households in fuel poverty.”

The report proposes:

  • Providing personalised home energy reports for half a million homes a year.
  • Delivering free energy efficiency improvements to at least 200,000 low-income households a year.
  • Offering up to a million interest-free loans for home improvements in the next Parliament (this is seen as a direct response to criticisms that financing charges for the green deal are too high).
  • Setting a new target for landlords to improve cold and ‘leaky’ properties.
  • Designating energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority.
  • Streamlining regulations.
  • Providing a long-term strategy to support investment in energy efficiency by businesses.

In relation to zero-carbon homes, Labour suggest that the coalition government has watered down the definition and that, '...Labour remains committed to zero carbon homes and a genuine definition as set out by the Zero Carbon Hub. Labour is also opposed to an indefinite exemption of small sites. We will work with the industry to ensure this ground breaking policy is implemented under the next Labour Government... In addition, Labour will continue to ensure that extensions to existing properties, including those covered by permitted development, are subject to full building regulation control to achieve compliance with high energy efficiency standards.'

Labour suggest that the proposals set out in the green paper are based on existing planned spending and, ‘…are about making much better use of this money to ensure we help as many people as possible – they do not require any additional spending.’

Flint said, “We make demands of landlords, we challenge energy companies to raise their game and we insist on public money delivering value for you, the taxpayer.”

Chief executive of the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) Paul King said, “This is a well-intentioned plan that recognises the importance of a long-term, multi-Parliament approach, designed to give industry the confidence it needs to invest.” However, the lack of new funding has received some criticism. In particular, it is difficult to see how designating energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority will be effective without additional financial support.

Responses to the consultation document had to be submitted by 22 December 2014.

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