All eyes on Government Heat and Buildings Strategy as Ministers dodge EAC recommendations to improve energy efficiency of homes
13 May 2021
The Government’s response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes has been published today. The response does little to alleviate concerns that sufficient action is being done to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions of the UK’s housing stock.
Within its response, the Government trails the imminent publication of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, where it is anticipated energy efficiency measures will be unveiled.
The EAC’s report raised concern that the Government’s estimates on the true cost of decarbonisation of existing housing stock had been significantly underestimated. In response, the Government has explained its estimate of between £35-£65 billion is based on as many homes as possible to reach EPC C, but fails to offer a cost for all UK homes.
The Government has also admitted that it did not consult stakeholders before it rolled out the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme and acknowledges that there were problems with issuing vouchers. The EAC remains of the view that a replacement scheme is needed, to be announced and funded in the next Spending Review, that is fit for purpose, will endure for several years and be free of bureaucratic obstacles.
The EAC welcomes the Government’s commitments to consult on policy costs on electricity bills if they are deterring consumers installing heat pumps, and the introduction of the Clean Heat Grant to assist those who are off the gas grid pay for heat pumps.
While the Government has stated that the system of EPCs will continue, it is working on an improved methodology that takes into account smart meter data, which will be further reviewed in 2025. The EPC scheme has anomalies which need addressing, so the EAC will continue to follow this with interest.
Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:
“Our Committee has warned the Government that failure to address with urgency the energy efficiency of the country’s homes could jeopardise its ambitions to be net zero by 2050. Eye-catching top line targets for heat pump installations and raising minimum standards for homes are all very well. What is desperately needed is a coherent plan to achieve those targets.
“In many ways, the Government response repeats what the Committee already knows. At best, it is a holding response for the hotly awaited Heat and Buildings Strategy. At worst, it is a lack of acknowledgement of the urgency needed to tackle sky high emissions from our existing housing stock.
“The Government’s response to the EAC report raises the stakes for the Heat and Buildings Strategy. I hope we will not be disappointed by that strategy, and that tangible action to implement the strategy – backed up by Treasury funding – is taken very soon after its publication.”