The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy ( BEIS) has announced that it expects a million more low-income households are set to benefit from innovative energy saving measures under new plans outlined by the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth Claire Perry, as part of the Clean Growth Strategy.

A consultation has been launched to focus Energy Company Obligation (ECO), the government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions by providing energy efficiency upgrades and heating measures – entirely on low-income households. Currently, only 70% of beneficiaries are from low-income families. Since the scheme was launched in 2013, more than 1 in 16 homes have benefitted from over 2.2 million improvements.

This is the latest step in the delivery of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, aiming to bring 2.5 million fuel poor homes up to an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C by 2030, helping to save energy and bring down bills.

Alongside this, a separate consultation looks ahead to changes to the Warm Home Discount beyond next winter which will enable all payments to be made automatically. The Warm Homes Discount provides a much needed top up of £140 to the energy bills of the most vulnerable in society. The consultation will also include extending eligibility to people who receive Universal Credit who are in work and earn less that £16,190 a year.

Speaking on a visit to Q-bot in Wandsworth South London, an award-winning technology company which has developed robots to install underfloor cavity insulation quickly and easily, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said “We have made clear our commitment to eradicating fuel poverty and by making our flagship energy scheme 100% focused on low-income families we are taking another step towards achieving this goal. As set out in our Clean Growth Strategy, we also want to continue to drive world-leading British innovation in green technologies for the benefit all consumers. That’s why we are increasing the opportunity for energy suppliers to get funding to develop new and innovative energy saving product and services, like the award-winning company Q-bot’s robotic insulation service.”

The proposed changes to focus 100% of the ECO scheme on the fuel poor would see energy saving improvements like insulation and modern efficient heating systems installed in 900,000 homes by March 2022. The government also committed to maintaining funding for home energy efficiency until at least 2028 as part of the Clean Growth Strategy, a total of just over £6 billion. At the end of February, the government also took action for 11 million households on poor value standard variable tariffs by introducing a landmark Bill into Parliament for a temporary price cap on these tariffs until effective competition is in place.

Responding to the announcement Victoria MacGregor, Director of Energy at Citizens Advice, said “Today’s announcement is welcome news for consumers. Focusing the scheme on low-income households is a move we’ve long supported. There’s limited support currently available for consumers to make their homes more energy efficient, so it’s right that it is focused on the people who need it most. Increasing the involvement of local bodies should also help ensure support gets to consumers who might otherwise miss out.”

“Yet, if the Government is to meet fuel poverty targets, more investment will be needed. Private landlords should be required to ensure that all their properties are truly energy efficient. The Government should require private landlords to carry out works up to the value of £5,000, to bring these homes up to standard.”