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Green Building Council urges revised spend caps for fresh ‘Green Deal’ plan

Council has welcomed possibility of revised funding programme to improve domestic energy efficiency, yet urges government to reconsider current spend cap proposals

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has called on the government to revise a financial cap on required landlord spending under a proposed new ‘Green Deal’ programme in order to avoid watering down commitments to support more energy efficient heating.

UKGBC has made the calls in response to a consultation launched by the government earlier this year calling for evidence on how best to proceed with a possible revised Green Deal scheme to replace the programme that was wound down from 2015 due to limited take up.

Introduced in 2013, the Green Deal framework was devised to grant loans to consumers for the purpose of covering the costs of energy efficiency improvements in homes that could be repaid through energy bills.

Responding to the government’s latest consultation, which closed on November 23, UKGBC said that the demise of the first Green Deal highlighted a need for a cost-cap as the only effective means of ensuring minimum standards for privately rented homes. However, the council has urged a spending cap of higher than the £2,500 currently proposed. 

UKGBC policy advisor Richard Twinn said that a year and a half after the government stopped providing further public investment for the scheme, it was encouraging to see proposals for revised financing to improve lower rated properties under the Energy Performance Certificates programme.

 Mr Twinn said, “Unfortunately, the proposals included in this consultation risk further watering down this vital policy. The government’s own figures show that setting the cap at just £2,500 per property will mean that the vast majority of the coldest rented properties - 70% of F & G rated properties - will not even need to meet the minimum standard of EPC band E.

 “This could leave a gaping hole in the government’s plans to meet its own fuel poverty targets and raises questions about whether the Clean Growth Strategy can be delivered just two months after its publication.”

The council said that that from next April, it will be illegal to privately let a home that has an EPC rating ranked between F to G. Although a few exemptions will be offered.

 This legal requirement is seen as an important step to ensure compliance with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for domestic buildings.

The UKGBC said in a statement, “MEES regulations were introduced in 2015 to give private landlords the opportunity to upgrade their property, subject to the availability of the Green Deal finance scheme.”

“The first Green Deal scheme was scrapped in the summer of 2015, and the government has now published proposals to replace the ill-fated scheme with a cost cap of £2,500 for landlords to make improvements to their property. The cap will mean that landlords are obliged to spend up to £2,500 on energy efficiency improvements, but can apply for an exemption if these do not bring the property up to EPC band E.”

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