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CSE responds to the latest government support package for the energy crisis

A gas meter
27 May 2022

Ian Preston, director of household energy at the Centre for Sustainable Energy comments on the Government’s new cost of living measures announced on 26 May 2022 in response to increasing energy costs.

The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) welcomes the government’s new measures of support for those struggling with the cost of living and rising energy bills. The measures announced by the government include support worth around £1,200 targeted at the UK’s most vulnerable households, along with a £400 universal energy rebate designed to overlap with the next energy price cap increase from Ofgem due in October. National Energy Action outlines the full measure here.

But these are only short-term sticking plasters, this support package doesn’t go far enough. We need a longer-term large scale home retrofit programme to help tackle the problem of soaring energy bills and cold homes.

We need to literally insulate people from the impact of future energy price increases! If we insulate our homes and buildings well, they’ll become more energy efficient and cost less to run. But no one is talking about the skills gap in the retrofit market. There simply aren’t enough people to do the work across all trades and roles. This will only drive prices up as companies fight for the same people to do the work.

The building supply chain’s capacity to service a huge growth in demand is something CSE has been working to address in our Futureproof programme – but we need to see a UK wide green skills strategy to help solve this crisis.

Growing the retrofit supply chain takes long-term investment and further skills and training to bring new people into the sector. Alongside an economic stimulus, we need to see an expansion of green skills and apprenticeships. Installing energy saving measures like solid wall insulation or heat pumps correctly is a skilled job and this must be seen as a valuable career path by young people today. We need something that’s looking to generate 20,000 newly trained people a year for the next ten years as an absolute minimum.

The Construction Leadership Council’s National Retrofit Strategy is calling for an additional 500,000 trade positions to help create a ‘retrofit army’ across a variety of pathways in the construction industry, both skilled and unskilled.

While these latest measures announced by the government will ease some pressure off the rising cost of living, the energy crisis isn’t going away any time soon. More households are now classified as being in fuel poverty, suffering from a cold home and making tough choices about how to spend limited budgets. People in these circumstances need further reassurance that support will be there in the medium and longer-term. Every day CSE’s advice line hears from people in crisis, worried about their bills and their mental and physical health is suffering.

Through our advice line, home visits and one-to-one support, we support around 16,000 people a year to reduce their bills and make their homes more energy efficient. Since the latest energy crisis began last summer, we’ve seen a huge increase in calls to our advice line and visits to our website.

Cold homes cause misery, ill-health and social exclusion. A warm home is a basic human right, and 2022 will be an incredibly tough winter for many unless urgent action is taken. 

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