Report by Service Lead – Home Adaptations, Improvements & Energy Efficiency (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Service Lead – Home Adaptations, Improvements and Energy Efficiency, (circulated previously) regarding the Energy Company Obligation.
The Service Lead – Home Adaptations, Improvements and Energy Efficiency highlighted the following to the Committee:
· The Government Energy Efficient Scheme started in April 2013.
· In 2017 the Local Authority Flexible Eligibility was introduced into the scheme. This allowed Councils to set their own eligibility criteria for private sector residents not in receipt of any state benefits.
· The criteria for eligibility was published in a Statement of Intent and must support vulnerable people in, or at risk of fuel poverty.
· The Council issued its first Statement of Intent in August 2018 which was amended in January 2021.
· Most declarations signed off were for insulation improvements (loft and/or cavity), first time central heating and boiler replacements.
· Since 2018 there had been 800 declarations signed off and unfortunately a significant drop during the two years of the pandemic.
· The latest version of the scheme, Energy Company Obligation 4, would run until March 2026. Its primary aim was to support low-income households to upgrade their homes and took a fabric first approach.
· One of the most significant changes in this scheme was the requirement for homes at an F or G Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to be improved to D.
· The Energy Company Obligation 4 scheme outlined four separate routes to identify low-income and vulnerable households that could be used under the Local Authority Flexible eligibility.
· North Devon Council would initially be using Route 1 – Household Income. Households living in private tenure in band D, E, F or G homes and with a gross annual income less than £31,000, but aimed to utilise all four routes as detailed in paragraph 4.8 of the report.
· An online application form was being developed with relevant verification check processes.
· The Council would be considering charging a nominal fee for declarations signed, to be levied at the approved installer with the understanding that this cost would not be passed onto the household.
· The Council will ensure a Best Practice for trading standards around ECO Flex/other retrofit grant schemes with the signing of the Charter.
In response to questions, the Service Lead – Home Adaptations, Improvements and Energy Efficiency advised the following:
· It was not always possible to find local traders able to carry out the works.
· The Council could instruct the providers to target certain areas i.e. Victorian era properties.
· The number of declarations signed off only related to those households not eligible under ECO standard eligibility criteria and that it would be important to promote effectively the new ECO 4 scheme.
(a) The revised Statement of Intent, as shown in Appendix A of the report be adopted;
(b) The Head of Planning, Housing and Health be given delegated authority to evaluate, and if relevant implement the charging for declarations signed, following consultation with the Lead Member for Housing; and
(c) That the Lead Member for Housing be authorised to act as a signatory of the Charter – best practice for trading standards around Energy Company Obligation Flex and or other retrofit grant schemes.