Government responds to Inside Housing’s Green Light campaign by redesigning the energy company obligation
The government has made a major concession to the social housing sector by overhauling the design of its flagship retrofit policy so landlords can access vital fuel poverty funding.
In a win for Inside Housing’s Green Light campaign, vulnerable and fuel poor social tenants will no longer be entirely excluded from energy-efficiency subsidy after the £1.3 billion energy company obligation was reallocated three ways.
Now landlords will be able to access a new £190 million element of ECO which will subsidise loft and cavity wall insulation for 190,000 of the poorest households in England as part the green deal.
Climate change minister Greg Barker praised the campaign, which had called for equal access to green subsidies. Mr Barker said the changes demonstrated the government had listened to the sector’s concerns.
‘Inside Housing’s Green Light campaign has brought social housing issues to the attention of the public,’ he said.
‘We have introduced a new element to ECO… We expect one of the main beneficiaries of this £190 million funding to be social landlords to help further increase the quality of homes while at the same time enabling tenants to manage their energy bills.’
ECO funding is to accompany the government’s green deal programme, in which households receive energy-efficiency works for free with private companies footing the bill and recouping the costs through resulting savings in energy bills.
In a blow to the sector the government on Wednesday confirmed that, despite lobbying from landlords, energy companies and contractors, landlords will still be excluded from the £350 million affordable warmth funding on the basis that social homes are, on average, more energy efficient than those in the private sector.
However, it announced plans for a new £190 million a year carbon savings communities obligation fund which landlords will be able to access for loft and cavity wall insulation to the bottom 15 per cent most deprived communities in England. This means that £540 million of ECO will be focused on tackling fuel poverty.
The government is also widening the measures available under the £760 million hard-to-treat element of ECO so cavity walls are eligible. This means landlords can use a much greater proportion of the overall £1.3 billion ECO pot.
Pippa Read, policy officer at the National Housing Federation, said the news meant an additional 800,000 social households would benefit from energy-efficiency measures. She added that the NHF would continue to lobby for full access to ECO.
Nicholas Doyle, project director at 63,000-home Places for People, said: ‘This is welcome news, but while it feels like we are moving forward, with six months to go until the green deal launches, we still need more clarity.’