Help to go green – as Council embraces expanded home improvement funding scheme
More private renters and homeowners than ever before can now qualify for financial help to make their homes more energy efficient - thanks to a decision made at East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet this week.
Elected members voted to set up a Local Authority Flex scheme under the new EC04 initiative for eligible properties throughout East Ayrshire.
The Flex scheme is part of the UK Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programme which is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and administered by the energy watchdog, OfGEM.
ECO legally obliges energy suppliers to install energy saving measures such as insulation and heating systems in eligible homes. ECO4 is the latest version of the scheme which is designed to promote the installation of insulation, renewable technologies and district heating connections with an emphasis on whole house retrofitting where possible.
In East Ayrshire this means the Council can use Flex to help homeowners and private rented tenants take advantage of the scheme to upgrade their homes to modern, energy efficient standards to reduce carbon footprint an energy costs.
Under the previous Flex ECO3 Scheme, this was only available to households within the Scottish Government Area Based Schemes (ABS) which meant many private householders and renters could not use the grants to upgrade their homes.
Councillor Graham Barton, Cabinet Member for Net Zero, Environment, Climate Change and Equalities and Inclusion, welcomed the new expanded ECO4 Flex Scheme: “We’ve already had great success in dealing with upgrading and retrofitting our own social housing stock, and within the ABS areas we were able to help some private owners and renters too, but thanks to our rich built heritage in East Ayrshire we have much larger populations of older housing which needs extensive work to become more energy efficient and fit for the 21st century.
“We know that for many householders the costs of retrofitting and upgrading are prohibitive, but if we’re to meet our NetZero targets and help improve people’s quality of life with community wealth building, assisting as many people as we can to cut their emissions and energy bills and join the green revolution makes great sense.
“Of course it’s not a limitless pot, and there are strict eligibility criteria to be met, but the expansion of the scheme to cover all areas of East Ayrshire means that we’ll be better able to target those buildings and people who are most in need of help.
“We know that nearly 27 thousand properties in East Ayrshire are in need of upgrading works to help them cut emissions and with 10,000 homes in the first three categories of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, an indicator for fuel poverty, 2500 likely to be fuel poor or extremely fuel poor and 350 homes fitting the “rural off-gas” classification, we know that the need for this scheme is high.
“At the moment most installers are able to fit measures such as wall and loft insulation, air source heat pumps and solar panels at no cost to the householder, provided their circumstances meet the scheme’s criteria. Although this is market driven and so customer contributions may be needed in time.
“To make the process as seamless as possible we’re appointing the Energy Agency to oversee the scheme on our behalf. They’ll develop and implement an Approved Installer List and monitor contractors to make sure high standards are met. It means elderly and vulnerable clients are protected and can have confidence in the scheme and its contractors.
“We’re happy that with this scheme, we’re helping residents all over East Ayrshire to cut the confusion that surrounds “green improvements” and that with this work we can cut emissions and fuel bills helping not just the householders but the whole area to move towards a more prosperous and Clean Green East Ayrshire.”
Details of the scheme and the eligibility criteria will shortly be available on the Council’s Clean Green East Ayrshire webpages.