GOVERNMENT SCRAPS ECO EPCs
BEIS has let down homes in fuel poverty, says AB
1 February 2017
From April EPCs will no longer form part of the Energy Company Obligation scheme, except for social housing and district heating schemes.
The news that EPCs and GDARs will be replaced with less accurate installers’ deemed scores, came in the BEIS response to the ‘Help to Heat’ ECO2 consultation, which was published on Monday (30 January).
Accreditation body Elmhurst Energy, which had campaigned strongly to keep EPCs in the scheme, has accused the BEIS of letting down households in fuel poverty by making the change.
And accreditation body Stroma said it feared that the use of deemed scores would leave the door open to abuses.
Elmhurst Managing Director Martyn Reed said: “We wanted to make sure that the right people and the right homes get the right help and sadly the BEIS response has let them down.
“BEIS have stated that the ECO policy is all about helping families in fuel poverty and whilst ECO will improve properties it will not improve the homes that need it most. We fervently believe that energy assessors using RdSAP and EPCs should have been retained at the core of this policy.
“The new policy direction has, in our opinion, removed the families from the equation, the market will now all be about the money spent, the number of installs multiplied by an inflated carbon figure.”
Andrew Parkin, Stroma Certification’s Technical Manager said: “The prospect of the next tranche of ECO using deemed scores instead of EPCs as part of the scoring process has been a possibility for the last year, so this news is not a huge shock to the industry.
“Stroma has always been an advocate for accurate scoring in order to offer the process, and the public purse, the best possible value from ECO.
“Unfortunately, the Government does not share a similar view on this matter and has moved to simplify the pre and post scoring process.
“I believe that this now leaves the door open to abuses and the net result may mean additional auditing at the end of the banking process.”
Elmhurst and NHER, which it recently took over, had campaigned for deemed scores to be used for trading ECO and dealing with understanding how much installers would be paid, but suggested ECO funds should be targeted at E, F or G rated homes irrelevant of tenure, by applying an inflator that incentivised installers to improve the properties most in need.
The accreditations had also called for a post-installation EPC to be produced, to give homeowners details of other areas that could be improved, and allow energy assessors to give energy management education to families. But none of this has been introduced into ECO.
“We believe that if our detailed proposals had been adopted everyone would have benefited,” said Mr Reed.
“Installers would have had certainty on the amount of funding they would receive, lead generators and installers would have been incentivised to find the least efficient E, F & G rated properties, and families would have received an independent, truthful, assessment of their home, which would also indicate other potential improvements that could be made.”
The key policy decisions outlined in the BEIS response include:
An 18 month extension to the ECO2 scheme, which was to be a year long but will now run from April 2017 to September 2018.
Introduction of a more simplified and targeted scheme. The Affordable Warmth Group will be increased to around 4.7m rather than 4m (in consultation) households. This will include more households who are in fuel poverty, and those on lower incomes, who may be struggling to meet heating and other bills;
Eligibility for certain measures under Affordable Warmth will be extended to social housing in EPC bands E, F or G;
Local authorities will have a role in determining eligible homes, following the introduction of the ‘flexible eligibility’ mechanism, which suppliers can use for up to 10% of their Affordable Warmth obligation;
The requirement to deliver a minimum level of solid wall insulation will be increased from the proposed equivalent (in consultation) of 17,000 measures per year to 21,000 per year;
Rural delivery will be protected as 15% of Carbon Emission Reduction Obligation will be delivered in rural areas.
Administration will be ‘simplified’: ‘Deemed scores’ will be introduced in place of the current Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) methodology.
The ECO scheme is expected to run until 2022, but prior to the commencement of the next phase in Autumn 2018 there will have to be a further consultation, and Elmhurst has pledged to keep fighting to bring EPCs back into the scheme.
To download the BEIS response to the ECO2 consultation go to https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/energy-company-obligation-eco-help-to-heat
To see the full text of the statement by Elmhurst Energy go to http://www.elmhurstenergy.co.uk/energy-company-obligation-eco-help-to-heat-consultation-response-issued
To see the response on the Stroma website go to https://www.stroma.com/news/eco-consultation