Thursday, April 18, 2024

Disappointment as Sunak scraps home energy efficiency taskforce

A taskforce to speed up home insulation and boiler upgrades has been disbanded it has been revealed.

The group – which included the chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt and other leading experts – was only launched in March.

However it appears to be a casualty of Rishi Sunak’s decision to scrap energy efficiency regulations for landlords in an overhaul of green policies.

Members were informed in a letter that it was being wound up.

Energy efficiency minister Lord Callanan told the group its work would be “streamlined” into ongoing government activity

A spokesperson for the Energy Security and Net Zero department said: “We would like to thank the Energy Efficiency Taskforce for its work in supporting our ambition to reduce total UK energy demand by 15% from 2021 levels by 2030.

“We have invested £6.6bn in energy efficiency upgrades this Parliament and will continue to support families in making their homes more efficient, helping them to cut bills while also achieving net zero in a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic way.”

But former Conservative MP Laura Sandys, who sat on the taskforce, said she was “disappointed” by the decision to disband it and “confused” about the government’s intentions on the cost of living.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, she said energy efficiency must be the “first priority to reduce citizens’ costs” and “improve energy security”.

A source close to the energy taskforce said: “The cheapest energy you can have is the stuff you don’t use.

“This taskforce was meant to help that – if government is shelving it because recommendations are too challenging for them, then it runs contrary to what the PM said about helping ordinary people and being honest about difficult choices.”

Labour’s shadow net zero secretary Ed Miliband said: “Every family is paying the price in higher energy bills due to 13 years of Tory failure on insulating homes.

“After Rishi Sunak’s track record as chancellor with the disastrous Green Homes Grant, this is another short-sighted decision that will cost families money.”

Labour says it would upgrade 19 million of the UK’s most poorly-insulated homes over a decade if it gets into power.

The Green Homes Grant was a voucher scheme for insulating homes which was axed in 2021 after being criticised as wasteful and inefficient.

The UK is often described as having some of the oldest and least energy efficient housing in Europe.

In 2020, research found 12 million UK homes were rated D or below on their Energy Performance Certificates, which means they do not meet long-term energy efficiency targets.

The prime minister has now pledged to scrap policies that would force landlords to upgrade energy efficiency in their homes, after pressure from landlords about the costs of doing so, but said the government would “encourage” households to carry out the work.