UK Government scheme misses golden opportunity to prioritise energy efficiency measures

29 July 2022, Ciaran Donaghy

Responding to the government’s recently announced Energy Bills Support Scheme, we have expressed disappointment that the UK Government have missed yet another opportunity to prioritise energy efficiency measures as a means of supporting households with their energy bills.

The scheme, announced today by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), provides eligible households with a non-refundable discount of £400 on their energy bills from October, with the discount paid in six instalments to support households with rising energy bills through the winter months.

Recent predictions suggest that Ofgem’s Q1 2023 price cap is forecast to increase to as much as £3,500, a staggering 78% increase. As a result, millions of homes face dramatically increased energy bills, fuel poverty and financial hardship during this spiralling cost of living crisis.

Increasing energy prices have been found to be responsible for an estimated 2.5m households with children estimated to be in fuel poverty from 1 April 2022.

While financial support to households towards their energy bills during the winter months is welcome, the support scheme does not propose any additional energy efficiency measures.

Crucially, there is also an urgent need for measures to reduce carbon emissions. Housing stock, particularly poorly insulated homes, is a significant source of UK CO2 emissions. Investment in energy efficiency measures is vital if we are to meet our carbon emission reduction targets.

We are calling on the government to prioritise energy efficiency measures to lower bills, support households through this spiralling cost of living crisis, and help the UK meet its carbon emissions targets.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said:

“While the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme provides welcome financial support to households during a time of spiralling energy bills, it simply does not go far enough.

While this scheme will provide short-term relief for households struggling with their energy bills, it is undermined by the lack of funding dedicated to energy efficiency in homes. This is a missed opportunity to not rapidly accelerate the installation of energy efficiency measures in homes to prepare for the Winter months.

The UK urgently needs a long-term investment strategy into energy efficiency measures for homes. This should include grants, zero interest loans, and other incentives for households, across all tenures to reduce their energy demand and thus help the country achieve better energy security.

It is clear that many households will be facing fuel poverty and financial hardship this winter and sadly this scheme does not go far enough to mitigate against this impending crisis.”

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