Making Britain’s buildings more efficient is one of the foremost challenges the next Labour government will have to tackle. If done in the right way, energy efficiency cannot only help families and businesses struggling with soaring energy costs, but also cut our carbon emissions and create thousands of jobs.
Unfortunately it’s clear that the Green Deal is failing. Just look at the figures. Only 384 households have signed up for a package and just 12 have gone live since the Green Deal launched. Most damningly, 99% of households who have had an assessment have not gone on to take out a plan. That just isn’t good enough. That’s why Labour has committed to overhauling the Green Deal and replacing it with a new Energy Save scheme. We will not continue with ECO in its current form either.
Labour will be consulting widely with industry in the months ahead on how we can create an energy efficiency programme capable of meeting the challenges ahead. Our priorities include addressing the eye-watering interest rates, hidden charges and severe penalties for early repayments that have put many people off the Green Deal.
We will also be looking at a more affordable and less bureaucratic replacement for the ECO when it comes to an end in 2015. Driving take-up through minimum standards, a greater role for local authorities, and redirecting ECO funding to better target support for the fuel poor are all options on the table.
Labour’s number one priority will be ensuring a smooth and orderly transition. This government has provided a perfect model for how not to move from one energy efficiency scheme to another. Insulation installations collapsed and thousands of workers lost their jobs when the Green Deal and ECO launched earlier this year. The next Labour government will not make the same mistakes.
The construction industry won’t be helped by supporters who pretend everything in the Green Deal garden is rosy. The true champions of energy efficiency are those ready to speak up about what’s happening to our low carbon sector and what needs to be fixed.