Stockton's Infinity Bridge

Support for Government's Green Deal in helping improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty

18 January 2012

The Association of North East Councils (ANEC) has broadly welcomed the Government's proposals for the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and has responded to the consultation today to highlight a number of areas where the Green Deal can support activity in the North East.

The consultation, focusing on energy efficiency in existing domestic and non-domestic buildings, is an area where local leadership can play a crucial role in moving towards a low carbon economy, given that there appears to be little evidence that large-scale private funding will be available for Green Deal on favourable terms from 2013.

In responding to the consultation, ANEC highlighted the role of local authorities in helping to establish the market and facilitate private sector activity. Investing in the energy efficiency of housing can help stimulate the labour market and the economy, including opportunities for skilling up the construction industry, whilst at the same time cutting carbon and reducing fuel poverty.

Fuel poverty is a key priority given the dramatic rise in the number of fuel poverty households in England from 1.2 million to 4.6 million between 2004 and 2010. The fuel poverty rate is 24% in the North East despite the collective efforts involving a range of partners resulting in an increase in cavity wall insulation from 43% in 2004 to 70% in 2009 with loft insulations rising from 39% to 60% in the same period. In its submission to the Government, the Association of North East Councils underlined its commitment to the prevention of further rises in the number of people in fuel poverty particularly given the challenges of the current economic climate and the continuing rise in energy prices.

ANEC has welcomed the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) proposals applying to the major energy supply companies which are designed to support the delivery of Green Deal in domestic properties by supporting measures which save carbon but where energy efficiency improvements will not exceed the repayment cost for solid wall insulation, for example. We are urging the Government to support efforts that will protect the most vulnerable people in society, those on low incomes, those with homes that are expensive to treat and importantly reduce the risks to health and excess winter deaths which could be prevented through warmer housing. Specifically, ANEC is asking the Government to be more ambitious and revise the definition of eligibility for ECO as the current definition encompasses only a minority of fuel poor and vulnerable homes. It excludes social homes despite 20% of all fuel poor homes being social.

ANEC has offered its support to Ministers and Civil Servants in the Department for Energy and Climate Change over the coming months to further shape the Green Deal proposals to ensure that they can benefit all areas of the country, including the North East.

View ANEC's full consultation response

For further information please contact Bethan Hughes on 0191 261 3917 or 07957 823 864 (mobile); email bethan.hughes@northeastcouncils.gov.uk