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UK Government Launches Home Energy Saving Programme

The Government today announced a £1 billion package, which will enable households to take advantage of help that could save them over £300 every year on their energy bills.

The Home Energy Saving Programme provides assistance to householders to make their homes more energy efficient, and for households most vulnerable to fuel poverty, including all pensioner households, gives help with their bills this winter through the winter fuel payments and lower energy company tariffs. In achieving this, the Government will comply with its legal obligation to engage with all interested parties.

The Government will propose legislation to require an estimated £910 million commitment from energy companies including, for the first time, electricity generating companies, to invest in making homes more energy efficient. This will be in addition to the existing obligation on companies to spend £2.8 billion over the next three years helping customers save energy. Together with the Government’s own spending programmes, this will create a £6.5 billion programme of improvement to the nation’s housing stock – the largest since the introduction of North Sea gas. The Government’s aim is the insulation of all Britain's homes, where practical, by 2020.

Around £560 million of this £910 million will add to the existing energy efficiency programme CERT (Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) – which funds subsidised improvements such as loft and cavity wall insulation. Eleven million elderly and low income households qualify for these measures at no cost. This extra funding could benefit up to two million households.

The remaining £350 million of the £910 million from energy suppliers and electricity generators will go towards a new Community Energy Saving Programme. Throughout the country, local councils, voluntary organisations and energy companies will carry out house-to-house calls to offer help in some of the most deprived areas of the UK. This could result in as many as 100 schemes across the country.

To make sure people get the most help the Government is launching a nationwide advertising campaign informing people about the support available. To further help them save money it will also encourage people to compare suppliers to get the best energy deals, use direct debit, and take advantage of money off deals on energy efficient products. Adverts will appear in national newspapers tomorrow, followed by television adverts later this month. For advice on help available ring the helpline 0800 512 012.

In addition to measures announced previously in the Budget the package also includes further, new support for those most at risk of fuel poverty:

  • We will increase Cold Weather Payments from £8.50 to £25 per week for winter 2008/09.
  • Around 40,000 households could see their fuel bills reduce by £180 per year on average, thanks to an extra £74 million of public money over the next two years to the Government’s Warm Front scheme. This offers up to £2,700 worth of central heating and energy efficiency measures to low income and pensioner households.

This is in addition to the measures announced in the Budget which were:

  • For this winter, households with someone over 60 will receive an extra £50 on their Winter Fuel Payment (up from £200 to £250) with an extra £100 for over-80s households (up from £300 to £400).
  • Around 600,000 customers’ accounts could benefit from discounted tariffs by the end of the year and around three quarters of these will be benefiting from a price freeze this winter.
  • If analysis shows that pre-payment users face unjustifiably high charges and no solution is offered by the energy suppliers and the regulator, we will consult on legislation to reduce any unjustified tariff differentials.

Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn said: “The Government has a longstanding commitment to help those living in fuel poverty, but recent price rises mean we are committed to do even more to assist people in reducing their bills where possible. And energy companies must do their bit too.

“This plan is about giving help, not only over weeks and months, but over the coming years by enabling householders to make their homes more energy efficient.”

Business Secretary, John Hutton said: "In a world where prices are likely to remain high, it's time for all of us to get more energy efficient. Thanks to Government and energy companies working closely together, an extra £1 billion will be available to spend on measures that will bring a lifetime of savings."

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