Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey outlines fresh policy to save households £1bn a year on energy bills
Labour has today promised to "fix the broken energy system", unveiling a £11.5bn energy efficiency scheme it claims will help four million households save at least £270 a year on energy bills.
The party is promising a "street-by-street" rollout of home insulation to "dramatically" improve household energy efficiency, bringing four million households up to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above by the end of a five-year parliamentary term.
"Our ambitious insulation plan will see the next Labour government take real action against fuel poverty, making homes cheaper to heat, improving people's health by improving our housing, creating new jobs and reducing carbon emissions," Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said in as statement.
Labour said it would provide £2.3bn in funding a year for local authorities to deliver the scheme. Up to £10,000 of energy efficiency measures would be installed per household, with a view to cutting at least £270 a year off energy bills.
Low income homeowners and those in social housing would receive free insulation measures, while other landlords and homeowners would be able to access zero interest loans to fund the upgrades. Under the plan, private landlords with low-income tenants would be eligible for a 33 per cent subsidy.
Around one in 10 UK households are currently living in fuel poverty, while millions of pounds are wasted on heating inefficient homes. With homes responsible for 13 per cent of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions, experts have long argued tackling draughty households will be crucial for meeting the country's climate targets.
Labour's policy proposal follow new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which came into force in April 2018, requiring commercial and domestic landlords to bring properties up to an EPC rating of at least E before re-letting. However, plans to offer domestic landlords an exemption to the standard if the work would cost more than £2,500 have been criticised by campaigners.
The government has also proposed reforms to its ECO energy efficiency scheme to focus specifically on fuel poor households, targeting upgrades of heating and insulation on 900,000 low income homes by 2022, at a cost of £640m a year.
It forms part of the government's pledge in the Clean Growth Strategy to bring 2.5 million fuel poor homes up to an Energy Performance Certificate Rating of C by 2030.
Under its new plan Labour also promised to ramp up MEES legislation to require all domestic landlords to bring their properties up to EPC rating of at least C by 2035 in a move designed to provide a long term signal to property owners. Some industry insiders have said that providing a signal that the MEES standard will ratchet up over time would provide landlords with an incentive to undertake comprehensive upgrades.
The proposal was welcomed by Michael Lewis, chief executive at energy giant E.ON UK.
"The UK's housing stock is among the oldest and least energy efficient in Europe, condemning customers not only to higher heating bills but also the knock-on effects of poor homes in terms of physical health," he said in a statement. "We remain convinced that improving our nation's building stock is a far more sustainable policy than a temporary market wide price cap but we broadly welcome Labour's proposals on energy efficiency as a step towards bringing the standards of homes up to a level fit for the 21st century."
He also criticised the government's current plans to reform the ECO scheme. "Our view is that current proposals for ECO3 are not ambitious enough and will mean many customers miss out on such benefits, particularly when it comes to solid wall insulation and harder to treat properties," he said. "We welcome
Labour's proposals as a step towards bringing the standards of homes up to a level fit for the 21st century."
He also welcomed Labour's plan to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority. "This is a pressing issue and making it an infrastructure priority to be funded through a proposed 'National Transformation Fund''- rather than another addition to energy bills - stresses the urgency of this need," he said.