BRUFMA Calls on Prime Minister not scale back on ECO

In a letter to David Cameron BRUFMA has urged the Government review their announcement to cut back green levies associated with the Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

Mel Price, BRUFMA’s Assistant Chief Executive wrote on 15th November:

“Dear Prime Minister

I am writing on behalf of the members of the British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers Association, who produce around one third of all insulation products sold into the UK market.  We would strongly urge you review your announcement to cut back green levies associated with the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), a scheme which was introduced to help those living in the c7,000,000 “Hard to Treat” homes, i.e. those home which cannot be treated with traditional lower cost cavity and loft insulation.  These solid wall properties can be treated effectively with either internal or external solid wall insulation (SWI) and doing so provides long lasting benefits to their occupants.

SWI is key not only in meeting the UK’s carbon reduction obligations but also in ensuring the most vulnerable people in society, the fuel poor, are living in conditions which will not further exacerbate existing health conditions and will free up income for other daily essentials.  It will also help to prevent excess winter deaths brought about as a result of fuel poverty.

The ECO scheme was brought about after lengthy negotiations across the whole industry from manufacturers and Government departments through to installers and end-users.  Despite being slow to get running due to the complexity of the rules initially, we are now seeing an increasing uptake of these measures with some very large projects being delivered by both private and social landlords.  This in turn has seen householder bills reduced, significant carbon savings and a reduction in energy demand.  We believe that it is this success that we should be focussing on and using to give greater momentum to the scheme, not looking at scaling back.

It was always envisaged that ECO would be a long-term initiative and as such it is essential that funding is not withdrawn.  To do so will once again bring uncertainty to the construction sector which is just starting to see some signs of recovery and will naturally have a major impact on manufacturing investment which may be withdrawn or scaled down, not to mention and any resulting unemployment which would occur.   It would be unfortunate if a further change in Government policy were to bring this recovery to a halt.  BRUFMA believes that in order to avoid any periods of inactivity at the end of ECO1 a minimum target number of SWI installations should be set, say c60k per annum, to take us through to the end of the current ECO period.   In order to ensure this work is phased across the period and to avoid high volumes of work falling into the final few months, clear guidance to energy suppliers is needed.

We would also urge you to reconsider giving some impetus to The Green Deal, another initiative which industry has worked hard with the Government to shape but is not gaining traction.  Others have put forward suggestions as to how to incentivise uptake, such as stamp duty incentives linked to property energy efficiency and we fully support such action.

BRUFMA and its membership therefore asks Government to be mindful of the fact that in order to achieve energy targets, as well as ensuring savings on fuel bills across the “hard to treat” sector, that insulating the nation’s housing stock is the most effective way of achieving this and strongly urges you not to scale back on “green levies”.

Yours sincerely

MEL PRICE

Assistant Chief Executive