New fuel poverty strategy targets inefficient homes

The UK Government recently set out its new fuel poverty strategy, which it says will require future governments to make the coldest, leakiest homes in England more energy efficient.

Central to the new strategy is a legally binding target that sets a minimum standard of energy efficiency (Band C) for as many fuel-poor homes as reasonably practicable by 2030.

Among the measures planned to tackle the problem of fuel poverty and hit that target include:

  • Regulations which mean that from April 2018 private landlords cannot rent out homes with Energy Performance ratings below ‘E’
  • A £25 million fund to address fuel poverty in off-gas grid properties, helping households to install central heating systems for the first time
  • Extending the ECO scheme to 2017, so that a further 500,000 properties will be made cheaper and easier to heat

According to the Government, the strategy also prepares the ground for future new measures with a series of pilots focused on priority areas, supported by £3 million of funding.

However, responding to the announcement, the British Property Federation (BPF) questioned why the Government was not extending the Landlord Energy Saving Allowance (LESA). This is a tax allowance of up to £1,500 for energy-efficiency measures which can be claimed per rented property per year. It is due to end in April 2015.

Given that the goal of the Fuel Poverty Strategy is for all private rented sector properties in fuel poverty to have an energy efficiency standard of Band C by 2030, the BPF would like to see the an important source of energy efficiency funding extended to encourage landlords to meet energy efficiency standards, the BPF said.

The organisation’s director of policy (real estate), Ian Fletcher, added: We share the Government’s desire to ensure that all private tenants live in warm homes. It seems illogical, however, to allow LESA – the only initiative aimed solely at private rented sector landlords – to lapse at this time. Landlords should be incentivised to take early action to comply with these new regulations and indeed go beyond the minimum standard, and we see LESA as an excellent way to achieve this.

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