Energy efficiency scheme for cold homes going slow

Energy efficiency scheme for cold homes going slow

Labour has attacked the Conservatives over the speed of government efforts to upgrade Britain’s draughty housing stock, as analysis showed a leading household energy efficiency initiative was proceeding at what the party called a “glacial pace”.

Just 65,000 homes have been upgraded under the government’s Energy Company Obligation (Eco) scheme since it was relaunched in April last year, according to analysis of statistics released by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

Labour said this figure sharply contrasted with the 1.5 million lofts and cavity walls insulated annually before it lost power in 2010.

MPs and campaigners have repeatedly urged the government to accelerate the improvement of homes against the backdrop of the energy and climate crises. Household gas and electricity bills began to soar in late 2021, and the price rises were exacerbated by a spike in wholesale gas costs after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

Claire Coutinho, the energy secretary, angered MPs this week when she said that new oil and gas production “wouldn’t necessarily bring energy bills down” in announcing legislation to allow annual licensing rounds for new North Sea projects.

Labour’s shadow energy security minister Alan Whitehead said: “It was a stunning admission from this government that, during the worst energy bills crisis in generations, their flagship king’s speech energy policy won’t even take a penny off energy bills.

“Now we find that the Conservatives are failing to take any meaningful action to upgrade Britain’s homes – even though energy efficiency is one of the best ways to cut bills for good.

“The Conservatives are so out of touch that they have given up trying to bring down energy bills for British families.”

Labour has pledged to devise a “warm homes plan” to give devolved administrations the power and the resources to bring every home in their area up to EPC standard C or higher within a decade.

The Eco scheme was launched in 2013 to cut household energy bills by improving insulation. In the first four years of the scheme, almost 1.7m homes were upgraded.

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