A NOTTINGHAM MP is calling on the Government to continue a scheme to make houses in the area greener.
The Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) places legal obligations on the big six energy companies to deliver energy-efficiency measures to households.
The scheme was launched in September and around 1,000 people have signed up to take advantage in Clifton, with external insulation added to houses in a bid to help people avoid fuel poverty.
It is estimated that another 4,000 homes in Clifton could benefit from the scheme and significantly more across the city.
But now, a change in Government policy could see the numbers of people able to take up the ECO scheme vastly decreased.
Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, helped to secure the initial funding and is campaigning to keep it.
Ms Greenwood said that nationally only 100,000 homes would benefit from the scheme, rather than 1.2 million as was previously the case.
She added: “People in Clifton love the external wall insulation being rolled out under Nottingham’s Greener Housing programme, which is making their homes warmer, cheaper to heat and smarter looking.
“There will be huge anger and disappointment if the Prime Minister’s panicked and ill-considered changes lead to cutbacks and delays to the roll-out of our programme.
“This is why I have written to the Energy Secretary to urgently seek assurances that efforts to tackle fuel poverty in Nottingham South will not be adversely affected by this decision.
“Even after these changes, energy bills are still rising and the average household will still be paying £70 more for their energy than last winter. Now the Government is bailing out the energy companies and simply asking taxpayers and our poorest families to pick up the bill.”
The Government has decided to extend the ECO scheme by four years without additional funding, so many people will have to wait and the emphasis has been moved from solid wall insulation, like in Clifton, to loft and cavity wall insulation.
The Nottingham Greener Housing Scheme – a partnership led by the city council and Nottingham City Homes – had been successful in applying for a significant pot of the policy’s money, but that could now be threatened.
Councillor Alan Clark, Nottingham City Council portfolio holder for energy and sustainability said: “The Government has identified cutting ECO funding for external wall insulation projects as a key element in cutting people’s energy bills, which the council feels is counter-productive. Nottingham’s Greener HousiNG project is fundamentally an external wall insulation project, being delivered on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood basis across the city, starting in Clifton.
“We have a contract with our ECO provider that will see that this scheme will be delivered as expected.
“The original Government plan was to provide external insulation for 1,200,000 homes, so the new commitment of providing funding for just 120,000 homes in the UK is a big change indeed. It is bound to make getting funding for future external wall in the city more difficult but we will only really be able to say for sure in the new year when we start the tendering process for our future plans.
“It is ironic that this Government change is being done to reduce energy bills by £50 when we know that homes in Nottingham would achieve greater savings than this through external wall insulation, as 40 per cent of a typical home’s heat escapes through un-insulated walls.
Mr Clark added: “The good news in all this is that the Green Deal cashback scheme has been extended and that loft and cavity wall insulation may now also be available as part of the Greener HousiNG package. And additional money is being made available in the Government’s Green Deal Communities fund, increasing our chance of getting the £3m we have already bid for to help deliver our Greener HousiNG programme in the next phases of the roll out.”
The changes could also put at risk the hundreds jobs associated with the scheme, including newly-created apprenticeships. Around 10 additional apprentices from Clifton are due to start working on the scheme in the new year.
Gary Philips lives in Southchurch Drive and is one of the people signed up to the scheme.
The IT technician, 57, said: “We’re in the process of getting it done. I’m due to be assessed on the 16th but I’m a bit worried I may not get the scheme.
“It would make a huge difference. These are old concrete houses and they are not eco-friendly in any way – heating bills are through the roof.
“It’s a bit rough when they put the idea forward and the money up and then all of a sudden the rug is pulled out from underneath people. You get all your hopes up.”