Today marks a landmark achievement for Lib Dems in government.
Up to 1m tenants renting energy inefficient leaky homes will be able to benefit from new regulations and so enjoy warmer homes and cheaper energy bills.
Clearly this will particularly help the fuel poor: those living in the leakiest privately-rented homes already need to spend an average £1,000 a year more to keep warm compared to the average home.
These new regulations will deliver two important changes:
- From April 2018 private landlords will not be able to rent out properties which do not meet minimum energy efficiency standards;
- From April 2016 residential private landlords can’t unreasonably turn down a tenant’s request for energy efficiency improvements. This will mean landlords have to accept the request if they can get help through widely available support like Green Deal finance, the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO), or grants from the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.
Let’s remember that these changes would not have happened naturally – out of the goodness of landlords’ hearts. It’s Lib Dems in government pushing for these regulations that has made them a reality.
And let’s just say that not everyone on the blue side of the Coalition had these proposals in the top of the in-tray.
It’s also important that these changes to improve energy efficiency are not seen in isolation.
While Labour will head into the General Election flogging a completely discredited policy of an energy price freeze, we will be able to say that thanks to the competition Lib Dems improved last year, the Big 6 froze their bills, and this year they are cutting bills.
While I want to see the Big 6 go further, it’s already clear what Labour’s price freeze would deliver for consumers – higher bills.
But cuts to energy bills are not enough: major improvements in energy efficiency is the only way to provide people with permanently warmer homes and permanently cheaper bills.
The Green Deal has had its detractors, but it’s worked alongside our other new regulation on big energy firms – ECO – to insulate 1 million homes in the space of just two years.
We have also introduced the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund which has already helped people install more than 13,000 measures like wall insulation and new boilers.
Next comes the publication of our Fuel Poverty Strategy. This will set out a comprehensive and long-term plan to help those living in drafty homes and paying over the odds for their electricity and gas.
But, when it comes to warming homes and keeping bills down for good, we’re not done yet. Our election pitch will include a greater emphasis on energy saving with a Council tax discount for home energy efficiency improvements, even tougher energy efficiency targets for rented homes and tougher zero carbon homes targets in a Green Homes Bill.
Saving energy has been our top priority – and our policies delivered 1 million homes better insulated. And new regulation to benefit a million tenants in the next three years. In our election manifesto we’ll take that focus on energy efficiency to another level.
Warmer, cheaper, greener.