Labour Party gets thumbs up from the FMB and National Energy Action on its ‘war on cold homes’
The Labour Party’s announcement that it would provide interest free loans for energy efficiency work to 1 million households and aid those in fuel poverty has been welcomed as being an attractive alternative to the ‘failures’ of the Green Deal, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the charity, National Energy Action.
“Our housing stock is among the oldest and least energy efficient in Europe and Labour recognises the urgent need to retrofit our existing homes,” stated Brian Berry, Chief Executive, FMB, said. “If we cannot tackle this problem, we will not halt the rise in fuel poverty and we will not meet our 80% carbon reduction targets by 2050.”
Mr Berry contended that the Green Deal, as it currently stands, had little financial appeal to most households, because of the interest rates charged. The package of measures announced by Labour, including focusing ECO funding on low income homes and bringing the private rented sector up to scratch, were judged by him to be good first steps towards making energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority.
“However, given the scale of the challenge, a future Labour government will need to be much more bold,” he warned. “There are 26 million homes in the UK, 85% of which will still be in use in 2050.”
The FMB believes the simplest and most effective way of ‘incentivising’ all home owners to continue to invest in the continuing improvement of their homes was for the government to adopt a lower 5% VAT rate for housing renovation and repair work. “This one measure would bring about more than £1 billion in extra energy efficiency work over the course of the next parliament and is the surest, simplest way of delivering the greener homes we need, while also boosting economic growth and creating thousands of jobs,” said Mr Berry.
Joining the FMB in its thoughts on the Labour Party pre-election commitment, is the pressure group, National Energy Action (NEA). The charity provides advice and guidance to installers on good practice in delivering energy efficiency services to low income householders. It welcomed what it termed a “whole house” package of measures, however it warned that this had to be a genuine policy. “Labour must now follow through on their pledge that energy efficiency is prioritised in any future infrastructure plan under a Labour government,” stated Jenny Saunders, Chief Executive, NEA. “The Treasury currently (and increasingly in the future) derives a huge windfall from domestic energy consumers and by using a very small percentage of the current £47 billion a year infrastructure budget, we could move even quicker to eradicate the preventable suffering caused by fuel poverty in this country.”
According to figures provided by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) it is estimated that there are 4.4 million households in fuel poverty in the UK. A fuel poor household is defined as one which needs to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use and to heat its home to an adequate standard of warmth.
Caption 1 Approximately 4.4. million households are in fuel poverty.