Wednesday, 11 March 2015 16:33

Call for support to heat rural homes

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Call for support to heat rural homes

A LABOUR MP has called for more government suport for homes which are hard to heat.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said the government was failing to adequately support hard-to-heat homes - despite acknowledging a policy gap.

His comments came after the Department for Energy and Climate Change published its response to the Cutting the Cost of Keeping Warm consultation.

Homes not connected to mains gas are some of the worst in terms of energy efficiency, the response acknowledges. Many of these homes are in rural areas.

    See also: 'Green deal overlooks rural residents'

Mr Cunningham said the government's response explicitly identified that "a policy gap has emerged over time" in this area, resulting in non-gas homes failing to get the support they need to improve energy efficiency.

One day after the consultation response, the Department for Energy and Climate Change issued £70m of funding for its Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

The fund offers specific support for upgrading condensing boilers in properties connected to the gas mains but neglects to support those upgrading oil or LPG boilers in rural areas.

Mr Cunningham said it was "astonishing" that the government recognised the failure of its policy in one breath, but then neglected to take action that could redress the situation.

"Households around the country that are not connected to the mains gas supply are losing out, with these areas contributing far more towards energy efficiency schemes in levies than they receive as support in return.

"In effect, some of our poorest rural communities are subsidising richer urban and suburban communities."

The government had acknowledged that over 45% of F and G rated homes were off-gas, said Mr Cunningham. But it had fallen at the first opportunity to begin addressing the situation and was continuing to fail to support those who stood to benefit the most.

The coalition government's energy efficiency schemes had failed to deliver, with the number of energy efficiency measures installed falling by 60% between 2013 and 2014, claimed Mr Cunningham.

Earlier this year, climate change minister Amber Rudd said more than one million homes across the country - including over 28,000 homes in rural areas - were enjoying a warmer, cheaper and greener winter thanks to the coalition's policies.

In addition, a new £25m grant announced as part of the Autumn Statement would see an extra 8000 low-income households benefit from first-time central heating for off-gas grid homes.

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