Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Government cuts to the ECO is bad news for Hyndburn's terraced housing

As you may be aware, the government recently cut the ECO funding in an attempt to assauge hard pressed family budgets facing rising energy bills, but without asking anything of the energy companies themselves.

ECO placed legal obligations on the larger energy suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic energy users, however the government's short sighted cuts to this part of household energy bill have made it difficult to fund solid wall insulation (hard to treat cavities) which are common in Hyndburn's terraced stock. As a result of this poorly insulated original housing construction, many people are left facing facing cold homes and even higher energy bills.

Hyndburn's Labour Council had just begun rolling out an insulation programme for terraced properties known as 'Warm Homes Hyndburn'. In short the government have made the funding eligilibity so restricted that this scheme has all but ended before it even started.

ECO funding was also key for jobs within Hyndburn, being home to quite a few insulation businesses. These cuts have made it nearly impossible for many of these companies across the UK to continue to operate as they did, resulting in the recent closure of one of the oldest companies in the Cavity Wall Insulation industry and the loss of 600 jobs.

This threat of job losses is becoming a reality within Hyndburn too, with one Cavity Wall Insulation company facing redundancies and possible closure of their installation business with subsequent job losses and a long lasting impact on the local economy.

This policy disguises itself as saving the consumer money, but instead it has an immediate impact on people living in poorer areas like Hyndburn, who will now no longer be able to afford cavity wall insulation, which will not only impede the energy companies' ability to reach future carbon saving obligations, but also increases the energy bill for many households within Hyndburn. When coupled with the nature of the housing stock in Hyndburn, this is a huge step backwards. Good for large energy efficent new build properties in leafy areas, bad for industrial areas with an ageing housing stock.

The government must face up to these realities and realise how important the ECO scheme was to people and businesses in constituencies like Hyndburn. Unfortunately self interest and the Government's political opportunism won't allow that.