The UK Government has pledged to provide more help for householders struggling to pay their energy bills.
It has published reforms to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, through which large suppliers have to deliver energy efficiency measures to homes in Britain.
Launched in January 2013, it has delivered energy efficiency measures to 1.6 million households, out of which 891,000 are low income and vulnerable homes.
The government said it would extend the scheme by 18 months until September 2018, worth an estimated £640 million a year.
Under the reforms, the Affordable Warmth Group will also be increased to around 4.7 million homes, targeting more households in fuel poverty and those on lower incomes.
Eligibility for certain measures under the Group will be extended to social housing that are inefficient, including – bands E, F and G.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) adds local authorities will have a role in determining eligible homes, following the introduction of the ‘flexibility eligibility’ mechanism, which suppliers can use for up to 10% of their Affordable Warmth obligation.
Other reforms include:
- The requirement to deliver a minimum level of solid wall insulation will be increased from the proposed equivalent of 17,000 measures to 21,000 measures per year
- Rural delivery will be protected as 15% of Carbon Emission Reduction Obligation will be delivered in rural areas
- The number of qualifying gas boiler replacements will be limited to around 25,000 a year
- The Carbon Saving Community Obligation (CSCO) will be brought to an end
- Administration will be simplified
- Government will collect more detailed information on ECO costs
Energy and Industry Minister Jesse Norman said: “The government is committed to tackling fuel poverty and a key part of that is to help people keep bills down by living in more energy efficient homes. These changes will move the UK a further step towards the goal of insulating a further one million homes by 2020.”