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BillSaveUK welcomes ‘ECO: Help to Heat’ but predicts potential impact on new build

4th July 2016

BillSaveUK has welcomed the launch of the Government’s new ECO: Help to Heat programme, providing £3.2bn for improving the energy efficiency of some of the UK’s most fuel-poor homes.

While the funding, to be released in instalments from April 2017, will not only help thousands of vulnerable people heat their homes more efficiently, it will also provide a boost in work for home insulation installers. But, national energy saving business BillSaveUK predicts this could have an adverse effect on the new build industry.

In the consultation document published last week (Wednesday 29th June 2016) the Government stated that 70% of 2017’s £640m funding would be allocated to affordable warmth projects and 100% from 2018 through to 2022. BillSaveUK therefore anticipates many house builders could be left high and dry as contracted insulation installers are drawn to the higher rate of return generated through the retrofit work.

BillSaveUK’s comments are based on the events which followed the Government’s cuts to ECO funding in 2013 and again in 2015, where almost half a million homes without enough insulation missed out on improved energy saving measures. Because of the reduction in funding, many installers were forced to either find themselves a comparatively safe haven working in the new build sector or, cease trading altogether. But now, with the situation reversed, BillSaveUK expects so see a significant number of installers follow where the money takes them and return to installing retrofit measures.

Bill Rumble, BillSaveUK director, said: “The ECO: Help to Heat consultation document has been well received by the industry as it will not only come to the aid of thousands of people living in fuel poverty across the UK, but also provide many more contract opportunities for those working in the insulation sector. However, while initiatives designed for the retrofit market should really have nothing to do with the new build sector, in this case the same set of skilled workers will be in high demand.”

It was announced in the Chancellor’s 2015 Autumn Spending Review that the existing Energy Company Obligation scheme would be replaced from April 2017 with a new domestic energy efficiency supplier obligation to run for five years. The new programme, ECO: Help to Heat will aim to upgrade the energy efficiency of over 200,000 homes each year, potentially saving those homes up to £300 off their annual energy bill. And, as a result of its consultation, ECO: Help to Heat is being structured to support those living in fuel poverty, targeting the funding at those who need it most and putting social responsibility high on the agenda for the Conservative Government.

Rumble continued: “In new build, a property can’t be completed, signed off or sold without the right levels of insulation installed, so developers need contractors and relationships they can rely on. We’ve experienced first hand the impact that new initiatives and funding availability can have, which is why we’re flagging this up now and giving house builders plenty of notice to enable them to ensure they’re working with the right contractors.”

BillSaveUK operates nationwide and installs insulation measures into one in five of all new homes built. Further information can be found at www.billsaveuk.com. To read the consultation document in full, click here.