Councils want to work as partners with central government and Ofgem to tackle climate change with a focus on transitioning to net zero. Net zero can only be achieved with decarbonisation happening in every place across the country and this will require local leadership.
About the LGA
The LGA is the national voice of local government. We are a politically-led, cross party membership organisation, representing councils from England and Wales.
Our role is to support, promote and improve local government, and raise national awareness of the work of councils. Our ultimate ambition is to support councils to deliver local solutions to national problems.
We are pleased to submit this short response to the ECO4 Guidance for Local Authorities, and would be pleased to discuss this further.
- Councils want to work as partners with central government, and Ofgem, to tackle climate change with a focus on transitioning to net zero. Net zero can only be achieved with decarbonisation happening in every place across the country and this will require local leadership.
- The energy crisis will continue to exacerbate the cost the of living crisis. A quarter of all families are now looking to improve energy efficiency as bills surge, but fuel poor households are least likely to afford the measures and the most likely to be impacted by rising energy prices. This has widespread impact, including into the health system.
- The Climate Change Commission, along with other institutions, is warning that if domestic properties are not at least EPC C or B, heat pumps will either not work efficiently or be too expensive to run. Government’s ambition is to retrofit a total of 3.1 million fuel poor homes to EPC C standard by 2030 – almost 900 homes a day.
- Based on trends of the last ten years, unless Government changes course, there will be 1.97m English households in need of fuel poverty retrofit by the end of the decade.
It is therefore our view that the ECO4 Flex should be strengthened in two interrelated areas:
- Resourcing councils: ECO4 Flex is well intentioned, supporting those non-social households that are most in need. However, its overall impact on addressing fuel poverty is limited by the lack of resource in the system for outreach and coordination. Further resource into councils to enable targeting and coordination should be considered, without this, the challenging financial picture for councils can make it difficult for councils to play their full role.
- Councils experience of previous schemes such as the Warm Homes Grant has shown that, particularly for fuel poor households, outreach is critical for the success of the schemes. Getting access into homes and agreement for retrofit is challenging and these households trust their council more than anyone. Outreach also offers the opportunity to engage the householders on how to programme and operate new heating systems for optimum performance.
- Strengthening the obligation on energy providers: The LGA welcomes the quantum of £4bn over 4 years, however the ECO4 Flex scheme is too voluntary to ensure targeting of the fuel poor households to deliver maximum returns on this significant public investment. The obligation on energy providers to act on a local authority referral should be stronger, perhaps with the default expectation they carry out the works but with a very simple appeals process when this is not possible.