Up to 14 million families will be able to apply for up to £10,000 each to pay for energy-efficiency improvements on their properties, ministers will announce today. The money – which will be paid back in energy savings over 20 years – is almost double the previous figure of £6,500 outlined when the scheme was launched.
Under the proposal, which forms part of the Government's Energy Bill, homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for the money to pay for new boilers, insulation and central-heating systems.
Ministers claim it will be biggest home-improvement programme in Britain since the Second World War. It is the cornerstone of the Government's attempts to reduce household emissions by 30 per cent by 2020.
The work will be initially funded and carried out by Government-accredited providers and will be paid back through reduced-energy costs – while the bills paid by households will remain the same. The cost of repayments will stay with the property, rather than the individual.
The extra funding is designed to benefit larger and harder-to-insulate properties which would not have been eligible for funding before. The the Government is also expected to announce shortly that double glazing will be included in the energy-efficiency measures available. This is to address concerns that if all the energy savings provided by the scheme were "invisible", such as insulation, the take-up might be low.
Ministers believe that if they can offer visible home improvements the number of people applying for cash will increase significantly. "We want people to think of this as home improvements, and part of the idea of that is to make the changes visible," a Government source said. "While insulation is vital, we are also hoping to offer higher-profile improvements to people – which they can see with their own eyes."
The Energy Bill will create powers allowing any tenant asking for reasonable energy-efficiency improvements to receive them from 2015 onwards. It will also allow local councils to insist that landlords improve the worst-performing homes. There will be a £2bn central-government fund to pay for improvements in homes which are not eligible for the scheme because the cost of the improvements would outweigh the savings made.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said up to 100,000 jobs could be created by 2015 and that everyone doing the work would be trained properly. A similar scheme in Australia was scrapped earlier this year after it emerged that 160,000 homes were fitted with sub-standard insulation and 80,000 faced safety risks from the work.