The government’s flagship green policy to transform the energy efficiency of 14m homes and create 65,000 jobs appears doomed to fail, with the revelation of its own figures showing the number of lofts being lagged is set to plummet by 93%, writes Damien Carrington in the Guardian.
The green deal aims to deliver large cuts in climate-warming carbon emissions, as well as curbing high energy bills by making houses warmer and less expensive to heat. The disclosure is the most startling yet about the green deal programme, which starts in October and has been billed by ministers as the most ambitious national refurbishment scheme in the world.
Britain’s homes are old and leaky by international standards and millions of lofts and cavity walls remain poorly insulated. These home energy efficiency measures are seen as the cheapest way to cut bills and carbon emissions.
But the new data, obtained by Building magazine and from Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (Decc) own impact assessment, throws the government’s grand ambition into serious doubt. Current government schemes that subsidise insulation have resulted in just over 1m lofts a year being lagged in recent years, yet this will plunge to just 70,000 a year under the green deal, according to Decc figures. This is also far below the 2m per year required to meet climate targets. For cavity walls, the current 510,000 a year being filled will fall to 170,000, a drop of 67%, and again far below the 1.4m a year required.
“These stunning figures show that the government’s green deal is in danger of becoming a car crash,” said Luciana Berger, Labour’s shadow climate change minister. “At a time when millions of families are struggling with their energy bills, it beggars belief that this government will cut the number of people getting help to insulate their homes by as much as 90%, scrapping successful schemes introduced by Labour.”
“The most effective way people can save money on their bills is by improving their home’s energy efficiency, but this government is so out of touch it is making it harder to do,” she said.
Existing insulation schemes subsidise the cost of insulation with, for example, energy company E.On this week offering free loft and cavity wall insulation plus a £100 incentive. The funding comes from a levy of £25 a year on all bills and from government coffers. The green deal, by contrast, offers no subsidy for these measures and instead provides a loan enabling the up-front costs to be paid back using the savings made on heating bills.