Rishi Sunak ‘refuses to fund plan for greener homes to help cut energy bills’

The Treasury reportedly sticking closely to spending agreements set out last year

Eleanor Sly
Tuesday 05 April 2022 23:56
Comments
<p>Currently, the Eco scheme does not involve public money and is funded by the levy on energy bills</p>

Currently, the Eco scheme does not involve public money and is funded by the levy on energy bills

The Treasury has reportedly blocked plans for hundreds of millions of pounds to be spent on making homes more energy efficient, which would in turn reduce bills amid the cost of living crisis.

Downing Street and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s team were hoping for an expansion of the Energy Company Obligation (Eco) scheme to be included in this week’s energy security strategy, The Telegraph has reported.

The scheme works by using money raised from a levy on energy bills and pays for home energy efficiency improvements for the poorest households.

According to the newspaper, the proposal included the Treasury contributing about £200m a year extra from the taxpayer, meaning the scheme could be expanded beyond only those receiving benefits to thousands more people.

However,The Telegraph reported the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, rejected the proposals as he is sticking closely to pledges outlined in autumn 2021.

The newspaper quoted a senior government figure as saying: “It would have been something that we could say to households ‘We’re on your side, we want you to reduce your bills’. But the Treasury doesn’t believe in it.”

A Treasury spokesperson told The Independent: “We are investing over £3bn over this Parliament to help improve energy efficiency in almost 500,000 low income households, delivering an average saving of £300 a year on bills.

“Our plans for greater British energy security, due to be published later this week, will supercharge our renewable and nuclear capacity while supporting the North Sea oil and gas industry.”

It comes after the transport secretary this week said Mr Sunak will always be looking at what else he can do to support people as he faced questions over the government’s handling of the cost of living crisis.

Grant Shapps insisted the chancellor has “already provided billions and billions of pounds to try to relieve the pressure”.

Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has recently lambasted the government for what he claims are “pathetic” attempts to ease the burden on people struggling with rising bills.

That sentiment was echoed by shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds, who said on Sunday he is “angry” at the scale of the crisis, arguing that ministers have not done enough to tackle the problem.

Asked about the cost-of-living crisis, Mr Shapps told Sky News: “We’re trying to do what we can – you’re asking if we’ll do more – I want to absolutely be clear, given the chancellor’s record, I’m sure he’ll always be looking what else he can do.

“He’s already provided billions and billions of pounds to try to relieve the pressure.”

He went on to tell the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “I don’t rule out the fact that we may need to do more still.”

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