Boris Johnson has reportedly instructed ministers to divert more than £1 billion from existing Government schemes to target insulating poorer households before winter in a bid to help shield the vulnerable from the rising cost of living.
The Times says the money could be shifted from the £1 billion Public Sector Decarbonisation scheme, which aims to increase the energy efficiency of schools, hospitals and other public buildings.
The plans would involve the Government topping up and expanding the Energy Company Obligation scheme, which helps fuel-poor customers insulate their homes, so that middle-income households could also access the programme if people wish to contribute.
Chris Skidmore, a Tory MP who founded the Net Zero support group, told the paper the Government needed to prioritise schemes that reduced energy use amid soaring energy prices.
He said: “The fastest and simplest way to tackle the cost-of-living crisis is to invest in insulation which has the potential to save £150-£400 off energy bills — an investment to permanently bring down bills year after year.”
It comes after the boss of E.on pleaded for the Government to invest in making homes in the UK more energy efficient to help slash bills and carbon.
Michael Lewis said the country needs “a massive ramp-up” in insulation and other energy efficiency projects.
He told MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee: “Our plea to the Government has always been to push hard on energy efficiency, because that’s the proven way, the only silver bullet, for this crisis.
“It will reduce prices, reduce energy consumption and contribute to net-zero on a sustainable basis.
“So the next phase of tackling this has to be a massive ramp-up in measures to deal with energy efficiency.”
He conceded it might take many decades to get every home in the country – there are 19 million that need more insulation – up to scratch, but he said there are also things that can be done quickly.
The UK has the leakiest housing stock in Europe, with many old homes that were not built with insulation.
— Environmental Audit Committee (@CommonsEAC) June 8, 2022
If the 19 million homes are properly insulated it will save the equivalent of six nuclear power plants worth of energy, Mr Lewis said.
He added: “We have to start now. And importantly we have to send a signal to the supply chain that it’s worth training up the people, it’s worth investing in the workforce and the skills and all that entails.
“Because one of the problems we’ve had in energy efficiency is stop-start, and that breeds a lack of confidence in the companies engaged in this kind of work and means the supply chain doesn’t gear up to deal with this massive, massive challenge ahead.”
Mr Lewis also called for a bigger scheme that can help provide the funding up front for those who can afford to pay for their own upgrades.
Attaching this to a mortgage when someone buys a home would be one alternative, the money would be clawed back over time as homeowners save on their bills.