Energy pledge 'won't boost efficiency'
Gordon Brown’s £910 million energy pledge is unlikely to have a huge effect on the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock, the figures reveal.
The prime minister’s £910 million pot is aimed at paying for loft and cavity wall insulation for low-income households and older people, with a 50 per cent discount to others. But with 24.6 million households in the UK, the money is unlikely to stretch far enough to have a significant impact on carbon emissions.
The number of households in fuel poverty could reach 5.7 million by 2009, according to research commissioned by the National Housing Federation, so the package equates to spending about £50 each year on every person faced with fuel poverty. The Local Government Association has calculated that a national scheme to fully insulate the housing stock would cost £5 billion.
The cash will also go towards a new community energy saving programme, which will hand out advice on energy saving at a community level and could provide help for up to 90,000 homes.
‘It’s headline-grabbing but there’s no strategy behind it,’ said Paul Davies, sustainable technologies manager at Wates Living Space. ‘The money could be targeted to improve the oldest and most energy-inefficient buildings. It won’t solve fuel poverty and it’s not a long-term solution to becoming a low-carbon country.’
And according to research by University College London into the government’s warm front scheme, fuel consumption is not necessarily reduced by insulation, as people turn up their thermostats.
Neil May, chair of the Good Homes Alliance, said this kind of package could only work if it was accompanied by widespread public education and proper installation. ‘While £1 billion is a huge amount of money to invest in existing housing stock, unless it is invested correctly there is a great danger that we will not achieve the results we need,’ he added.