Chris Huhne’s early cut to the feed-in tariff could cost social tenants £180m over 25 years
38,000 households denied energy savings
More than 38,000 social households across Britain will miss out on energy savings worth an estimated £7.2 million a year as a result of this week’s cut to the feed-in tariff.
Exclusive surveys carried out by the National Housing Federation, Community Housing Cymru and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations have revealed that thousands of solar photovoltaic schemes, which could have reduced a household’s energy bills by £190 per year, have been abandoned by social landlords.
On Monday, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, led by Chris Huhne, slashed the FIT, which is paid to producers of renewable electricity, from 43.3p/kWh to 21p/kWh. Mr Huhne warned that it had become too expensive and that the entire scheme was at risk if he didn’t act quickly. The cut came four months ahead of schedule and has rendered the majority of planned social housing PV schemes unviable.
As a result, social tenants - who make up some of the lowest income and most vulnerable families in Britain - will miss out on total savings of up to £180 million over the FIT’s 25-year life.
In England alone, schemes that would have provided PV to 21,000 homes have been abandoned according to a survey of National Housing Federation members.
Based on an average saving of £190 a year, as calculated by the Local Government Association, this would equate to a £3.4 million loss to tenants.
In Wales, where 40 per cent of the population is in fuel poverty according to Consumer Focus, research by Community Housing Cymru found that 11,000 homes will miss out on planned PV projects as a result of the cuts.
CHC found that 15,000 installations had been planned before March, but the early cut meant just 4,000 had gone ahead. It said this equated to £1.5 million in lost energy savings that could have otherwise lifted many households out of fuel poverty.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations found that 6,000 households in Scotland are likely to miss out on reduced energy bills as a result of the cut. The SFHA argued the cut was especially unfair in Scotland, where 21 per cent of homes are off the gas network and colder winters with less sunlight make PV more expensive to fund.
Dr Mary Taylor, chief executive of the SFHA said: ‘The UK government needs to recognise that because of our climate and the high number of houses that are not on the mains gas network, fuel poverty and energy efficiency are greater issues in Scotland.’
Inside Housing’s Green Light campaign calls for landlords to be given equal access to green subsidies including the FIT and for social housing PV schemes to be classified as community projects rather than ‘aggregated’ multiple installations which face a second cut to 16.8p/kWh from 1 April next year.
Monday’s cut comes despite a consultation on the FITs not closing until 23 December.