To improve the UK’s housing stock to energy performance certificate (EPC) band C level will require up to £65 billion worth of investment, Claire Perry has revealed.
The minister of state for energy and climate change told MPs last week that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has estimated that bringing all homes up to the EPC band C standard would cost between £35 billion and £65 billion.
The government has committed to bring as many homes as feasible up to EPC band C by 2030.
Giving evidence to the select committee last week, she said that this figure is similar to how much the government has so far spent on decarbonising the power sector.
But Perry said that the overall figure could be “much lower” if a stronger energy efficiency push from government helps to drive down the cost of energy efficiency measures.
She also defended the government against criticism of its failure to implement the Bonfield review’s recommendation that a kitemark scheme should be established for installation of energy efficiency measures.
The review, which was published at the end of 2016, included a recommendation that installers accessing energy company obligation (Eco) funding should have to meet a new quality mark.
Perry said the government intends to legislate to implement the scheme “this year”,
But citing concerns in evidence submitted by SSE to the committee about the delays to the review’s implementation, its chair Rachel Reeves said she was “really disappointed” that the recommendation has not been implemented more than two years since its publication.
She said: “Two years after this report was written by Peter Bonfield, we still don’t have a legislative slot to resolve this problem and the industry themselves are saying that they can’t do this without leadership from the government.”
And dismissing Perry’s defence that the legislative timetable had been crowded out by Brexit related legislation, Reeves said: “I don’t think there is a problem bringing forward legislation if the government will is there.”
But Perry hit back by telling the committee that suppliers should not have to be forced via legislation to deal with good quality installers.
She said: “For too long, we have had suppliers who were knowingly contracting with poor quality installers and refusing to go back and honour commitments.”
The minister also accused developers of hiding behind regulations as an excuse for not implementing up to date energy efficiency construction standards.
Questioned over whether house builders should use the building regulations in place when the home is being built rather than when it received planning permission, which can be several years old, she said: “I’m fed up with developers saying that they can’t possibly change specifications when they are able to change the supplier of a steel contract overnight.
“I’m fed up with people trying to hide behind outdated regulations. We all have an obligation to supply homes that are affordable to buy and run.”
Pointing out that shareholders in house building companies have received billions of pounds of government support via schemes like the Help to Buy mortgage support initiative, Perry said: “It should be doing everything it can to build homes to the highest standards.
“We can wait for regulations to catch up but the best house builders are ahead of regulations.”
She also said she has written to estate agents urging them to publish information when letting out properties on web portals outlining their properties energy performance.
She said that the weekly energy running for a property can be easily calculated by multiplying the EPC band by the sq footage of the property.
And she also defended the government’s decision to set £3,500 as the cap on the amount that landlords will be required to pay to upgrade properties.