Lib Dems fight to stop Government gutting fuel poverty scheme 

Seventy-one Liberal Democrats MPs, Peers and Council Group Leaders have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to oppose the Government's plans to gut a critical scheme allowing energy inefficient homes to access grants.


The Government is poised to remove social housing and rented accommodation from eligibility for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme and impose prescriptive measures on how improvements must be carried out. This means that even fewer homes are likely to be upgraded, particularly given the failure of the Green Homes Grant. 

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the cancellation of these changes to ensure that those most in need of help do not lose the opportunity to access these grants. 

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Sarah Olney MP said: 
 
“This is yet another move by the Tories to make it impossible to cut emissions from our homes and help to reduce energy bills – despite the most vulnerable in our society being the people who can benefit most. 

"With 30 per cent of the UK's CO2 emissions coming from our homes and energy bills continuing to rocket, Liberal Democrats are calling for a ten-year programme to upgrade our homes, prioritising those in fuel poverty. 
 
"As we gear up to host the monumental climate conference, COP26, at the end of the year, we need more than words from the Conservative Government. We need action.”

Notes to editors
 

Full text of the letter and signatories

Dear Secretary of State,

We are writing as a group of Liberal Democrat MPs, Peers and Local Councillors to highlight some of the dangers of the planned changes to the Energy Company Obligation, such as removing social housing and privately rented housing from the scope of the scheme and mandating two measures to achieve specific EPC band improvements. 

The Liberal Democrats have been pushing for the social housing stock to be prioritised in retro-fitting and upgrades since 2011. These proposed changes do not only contravene advice from the Committee on Fuel Poverty but also significantly threaten our ability to tackle the twin crises of fuel poverty and the climate emergency.
If those living in rented homes or social housing cannot apply, the £1 billion put into the scheme by energy companies could go unspent and lead to a cancellation of the scheme as we have seen this year with the Green Homes Grant. These changes could make ECO fundamentally undeliverable. 

We are deeply concerned that you have made this decision to exclude social housing due to the announcement of £60 million for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. The pilot of this fund financed only 7 projects with £50 million, so we strongly believe that this £60 million will not be enough to counteract the removal of social housing from ECO. 
As hosts of COP26 this year, we must be doing all we can to quickly upgrade the energy efficiency of all of our housing stock. The removal of social housing and privately rented housing from the scope of the Scheme could seriously undermine our credibility negotiating climate policy on the international stage.

The second issue we note with these planned changes to the scheme is the mandating of two measures to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate uplift of two bands. As a party, we are strongly supportive of the aims of the Scheme in helping properties currently in lower bands achieve these upgrades, however we believe that the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should not interfere to mandate exactly how many measures must be undertaken to achieve this aim.

Every property is different – some may need only one measure to jump up two EPC bands, some may take three. Mandating two measures introduces significant uncertainty to the process by potentially forcing multiple contractors to be used on one project. If the second contractor does not complete the job or the required EPC band improvement is not met, they will jeopardise the payment through ECO for the first contractor. This over-complication of the process could lead to many projects never being applied for and, again, the Scheme being scrapped as we have seen with the Green Homes Grant. We believe the decisions on which measures and how many measures are needed to improve the EPC rating should be left to the supply chain. 

We urge you to work quickly to ensure that new iterations of the Energy Company Obligation Scheme are fully inclusive of social and privately rented housing and do not specifically mandate how many measures must be undertaken to achieve the EPC uplift of two bands. 

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Olney MP
Spokesperson for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Tim Farron MP
Spokesperson for Communities, Housing and Local Government 

Wera Hobhouse MP 
Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency

Sir Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Daisy Cooper MP
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Alistair Carmichael MP
MP for Orkney and Shetland 

Wendy Chamberlain MP 
MP for North East Fife

Christine Jardine MP
MP for Edinburgh West 

Layla Moran MP
MP for Oxford West and Abingdon 

Jamie Stone MP 
MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

Munira Wilson MP
MP for Twickenham

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM 
Baroness Bakewell

Lords Spokesperson for DEFRA
Baroness Grender

Lords Spokesperson for Housing 
Lord Foster

Lord Tope CBE 

Baroness Thornhill

Lord Stunell 

Lord Shipley

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM
Member of the London Assembly 

Keith Melton
Founding Chair of Green Liberal Democrats

Cllr Dine Romero
Leader of the Council, Bath & North East Somerset 

Mayor Dave Hodgson
Directly Elected Mayor, Bedford Borough Council 

Cllr Peter Jones, Secretary, Liberal Democrat Group
Buckinghamshire Council 

Cllr Anthony Martinelli, Shadow Spokesperson for Housing 
Cambridge City Council

Cllr Stephen Robinson, Chelmsford City Council 
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Peter Jeffries, Cheltenham Borough Council 
Deputy Leader and Housing Lead 

Cllr Keith Aspden, City of York Council 
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Joe Harris, Cotswold District Council 
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Peter Thornton, Cumbria County Council 
Deputy Leader 

Cllr Lorna Dupre, East Cambridgeshire District Council 
Leader of Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Keith House, Eastleigh Borough Council
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Virginia Taylor, Eden District Council
Leader of the Council

Cllr Gill Moseley, Forest of Dean District Council
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Pat Marsh,Harrogate Borough Council
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Angela MacLean
Highland Council

Cllr Denis Rixson 
Highland Council 

Cllr Michael Mullaney, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council
Executive Member for Housing 

Cllr Stuart Bray, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council
Leader of the Council 

Cllr William Meyer, Lewes District Council 
Portfolio Holder for Housing 

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison, London Borough of Haringey
Leader of the Opposition

Cllr Joshua Dixon, London Borough of Haringey 
Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Cllr Ruth Dombey, London Borough of Sutton 
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Jayne McCoy, London Borough of Sutton 
Deputy Leader and Chair

Cllr David Bartolucci, London Borough of Sutton 
Vice Chair, Housing, Economy and Business Committee 

Cllr David Frank, Luton Borough Council 
Leader of the Opposition

Cllr John Leech, Manchester City Council 
Leader of the Opposition

Cllr Jenni Ferrans
Milton Keynes Council

Cllr Douglas McCall, Milton Keynes Council
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Ros Wyke, Mendip District Council 
Leader of the Council

Cllr Richard Pinnock, Mendip District Council 
Housing Portfolio Holder 

Cllr Alison Bennett, Mid Sussex District Council 
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Paul Clark, North Hertfordshire District Council 
Deputy Leader and Planning & Transport Portfolio Holder 

Cllr Sarah Butikofer, North Norfolk District Council 
Leader of the Council

Cllr Mike Bell , North Somerset Council 
Deputy Leader of the Council & Executive Member for Housing 

Cllr David Whipp, Pendle Borough Council 
Deputy Council Leader 

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jacks, Portsmouth City Council 
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Allan Knox, Ribble Valley Borough Council 
Leader of the Opposition 

Cllr Susan Prochak
Rother District Council 

Cllr Donald Whyte, Runnymede Borough Council 
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group 

Cllr Rod Jones, Rushcliffe Borough Council
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Steve Mason
Ryedale District Council 

Cllr Dinah Keal 
Ryedale District Council 

Cllr Bill Revans, Sedgemoor District Council
Group Leader 

Cllr Hazel Smith, South Cambridgeshire District Council 
Lead Cabinet Member for Housing 

Cllr Claire Young, South Gloucestershire Council
Leader of the Opposition 

Cllr Giles Archibald, South Lakeland District Council 
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Sue Cooper, South Oxfordshire District Council 
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Val Keitch, South Somerset District Council
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Jacqui Taylor, St Albans City & District Council 
Portfolio Holder for Housing, Inclusion & Protection

Cllr Susan Juned, Stratford on Avon District Council 
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Council 

Cllr Sarah Nelmes, Three Rivers District Council 
Leader of the Council & Local Plan Lead 

Cllr Steve Darling , Torbay Council 
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Meenakshi Minnis , Trafford Council 

Cllr Emily Smith, Vale of White Horse District Council 
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group 

Mayor Peter Taylor, Watford Borough Council 
Leader of the Council 

Cllr Andy Graham , West Oxfordshire District Councillor 
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group 
 
Cllr Allan Brame , Wirral Council 
Deputy Chair, Housing Committee

Cllr Phil Gilchrist , Wirral Council 
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Emily Davey, Housing Lead Member
Kingston Upon Thames Council