NEF supports open letter to PM expressing concern about ECO changes and reduced targets for SWI

28th April 2014

The National Energy Foundation is one of a number of organisations that has signed a letter to the Prime Minister expressing concern about the proposed changes to ECO and the effect they will have on solid wall insulation.

Open letter expressing concern about ECO changes and reduced targets for solid wall insultation

Dear Prime Minister

As an alliance of organisations concerned with improving energy efficiency through the refurbishment of Britain’s homes, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding proposed changes to energy efficiency legislation and to ask that you reconsider the dramatically reduced target for solid wall insulation (SWI).

The eight million British households currently living in energy-leaking solid wall homes, including half of our most hard-pressed "fuel poor" families, have been badly served by successive Governments. Through their energy bills they have paid £2.7 billion into "energy efficiency obligations" over the last decade and have received very little in return.

The proposals set out in your Government’s "Future of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO)" consultation, which closed earlier this month, will perpetuate this unfair situation for the foreseeable future. A more than 75% reduction in the ambition for SWI under ECO will cripple the growing SWI industry, result in 20,000 job losses, and leave those living in solid wall properties suffering from the highest fuel bills.

At the rate proposed in your consultation, it will take 300 years to get these homes to a decent state of energy efficiency. In the meantime, the lack of SWI means that these eight million properties are emitting 6 million tonnes of unnecessary carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.

A report published today by the Institute for Public Policy Research demonstrates the substantial benefits of SWI to the UK. With the right support framework, for every £1 invested in the installation of SWI, the Exchequer will recover 50%-100% or more in the same year, proving that Government investment in SWI makes economic sense. The report also demonstrates that the positive impacts through employment, health and social benefits for residents present a compelling case for continued and strengthened investment in SWI rather than cutbacks.

The SWI industry fully understands the economic and political pressures that necessitated a cut in "green levies". However, the response of the recognised trade association for SWI, the Insulated Render and Cladding Association (INCA), to your consultation presents very strong evidence that actual savings to the 'big six' go far beyond the £35 you have persuaded them to give back to customers, representing a £1-2 billion windfall to energy suppliers over the next three years.

We therefore urge you to reconsider this dramatically reduced target for SWI. The windfall saving that energy companies have enjoyed means that a doubling of the SWI minimum in ECO to 200,000 installations over the next three years can be achieved without incremental cost to consumers. Combined with effective targeting of the new Green Deal incentives at solid walled properties, this would go a long way to restore the balance, and demonstrate that this Government cares about the eight million families left stranded in cold, leaky properties by successive Governments in the past.

Yours sincerely,

Insulated Render and Cladding Association (INCA)
The recognised trade association for the external wall insulation (EWI) industry
Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE)
The not for profit, national centre of excellence for green building retrofit
National Energy Foundation
The independent charity dedicated to improving the use of energy in buildings
Sustainable Homes
The leading training and advisory consultancy operating in the field of sustainable housing