Ministers have shelved a Conservative pledge to pilot a home energy efficiency scheme with local government, raising concerns the programme might be taken over by the private sector and sideline those living in fuel poverty.
The ‘Green Deal’, due to be piloted by the mayor of London and 14 councils and covering more than three million homes, was announced in December.
But the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed ministers “currently” have no plans to introduce the council pilots.
The Deal was to give households the right to make home energy efficiency improvements of up to £6,500.
Repayment was to come through future savings in household energy bills – with homeowners still benefiting from an overall saving.
Then shadow climate change secretary Greg Clark said the “vanguard of leading councils” selected to pilot the scheme would undertake a street-by-street approach, targeting “those people most in need of cutting their fuel bills and heating their homes”.
In a report to the Local Government Association’s Environment & Housing Programme Board, officials warned that energy secretary Chris Huhne had given no indication of the role councils would play in the Green Deal.
It added there was a “strand of thinking” within DECC that “clearly favours an approach in which private sector businesses would compete in an unconstrained way to deliver the Deal”.
An LGA spokeswoman said that without council involvement in the scheme, households most in need of energy efficiency, particularly those living in fuel poverty, could miss out.
“Councils know their local areas best and can make sure everyone is able to benefit [from the Green Deal],”she said.
The LGA report added that without a clear role in improving energy efficiency “it will be impossible for councils to take on responsibility for their local CO2 emissions”.
Source: Local Government Chronicle