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Energy saving schemes falling short, warn Councils

SLOW progress insulating homes leaves fuel poverty targets in jeopardy, costing billions and contributing to climate change, Councils warn. Councils are calling for a new local approach as the flagship energy efficiency scheme supported just 60,000 homes in 2022, down from almost ½ a million homes in 2013.  New analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents over 300 Councils in England and Wales, found the failure to match installation levels of 2013 in the following years has cost households £2 billion in lost lifetime bill savings.

The analysis also found that on current trends:-

  • 2.4 million fuel poor homes will be left without help from the scheme by 2030, the target date for ending fuel poverty

  • It would take 50 years to deliver loft insulations to all fuel poor homes needing it, and almost 60 years to deliver wall insulation improvements, while the net zero target is just 27 years away

  • New boilers account for 1 in 4 measures, more than all loft and cavity wall insulation measures combined, which is not sustainable long-term

  • Without reform, the Government's new Great British Insulation Scheme will suffer the same fate.

The LGA is calling for accelerated action to rapidly retrofit all social and fuel poor homes. It is arguing that schemes should be devolved to Councils to locally target projects to insulate homes and support businesses.

Its new report launched today proposes to focus on tackling fuel poverty as the foundation for cutting emissions across all homes and buildings, as well as promoting health and tackling the cost of living.

Research shows locally led approaches to tackling climate change will cost 3 times less and deliver twice the financial returns than a nationally controlled approach.

Cllr Linda Taylor, environment spokesperson for the LGA said:- "Retrofitting more homes is a practical, sustainable and economically responsible solution to raise housing standards and cut bills. National climate action is essential. But the complexity of supporting retrofitting in our 51 cities, 935 towns and 6,000 villages cannot be managed from a Whitehall desk, and the national schemes are struggling. It is now time to shift to a locally led approach, which would mean Councils can target the homes that need the support most, while working with local businesses to build skills and growth."

Business owners in the North West step in to support employees as cost of living crisis continues

BUSINESS owners in the North West have been stepping in to support their employees as the cost of living continues to put financial pressure on individuals according to new research from Rathbones.

According to research by Rathbones, 50% of business owners in the North West have provided their employees with regular financial support, while a further 28% have given a 1 off lump sum to their staff to help with rising costs.

Inflation soared again in February by 10.4%, and with the cost of everyday groceries the main driver, many households are feeling the strain on their finances. Some business owners have therefore stepped in to support.

This is despite many businesses, and in particular SMEs, also facing:- a significant increase in costs, supply chain issues and the tailing down of the Energy Bills Support Scheme this month.

Nationally, 43% of business owners have offered regular financial support to their employees, with those in the East of England the most generous to staff with 75% reporting to have offered regular financial support in the last 6 months. Business owners in Scotland (44%) and those in Greater London (42%) have also been providing considerable regular monetary support to their employees.

More widely, Rathbones' research found that higher earners across the UK have also been stepping in to support their loved ones. 48% of high net worth individuals in the North West have helped their children or grandchildren over the last 6 months with regular financial support for bills, with a further 18% having provided a 1 off cash payment. Many have also been regularly supporting extended family members such as:- aunts, uncles, and cousins (38%) and their close friends (24%).

Richard Dawson, Regional Director at Rathbones comments:- "It is in challenging times where you feel the benefits of having your community the most. With times tough for many individuals, it's encouraging to see so many business owners stepping in to support their employees. Whether it's regular financial support or a one-off payment, the help provided by business owners or higher earners will make a real difference in many people's lives. However, it's vital that business owners are also protecting their businesses and their personal finances throughout this time too. With limited support for SMEs currently available, many could see their costs rise significantly in the coming months. SMEs account for 99.9% of the UK business population and play an important role both as an employer across the UK and to our economy. Ensuring your business is equipped to handle whatever comes next is therefore important."

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