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AGM and presentation of Governments Response to the ECO4 consultation document

  • Welcome – David Lawrence – SWIGA Chairman – MD Lawtech
  • Introduction to session SWIGA – Andrew Champ - SWIGA
  • Key pieces to Nett zero and EWI role – Andrej Miller -BEIS 
  • Understanding the Local Authority view – Darren Marr – Catalyst Housing                           
  • Funding opportunities and requirements – Steve Lauri – EON
  • Update on Verge trims and PAS2030- Andrew Champ – SWIGA
  • Summing Up David Lawrence _SWIGA Chairman  - MD Lawtech
David Lawrence welcomed attendees and thanked the speakers for giving up their time to present to our members. He described how this was an exciting time to be involved in solid wall insulation.

Andrew Champ Executive Director of SWIGA also welcomed the attendees and described the challenging conditions the industry had experience over the past 18 months since the last AGM. Covid, Brexit, Labour shortages, supply chain inflation and PAS2030 to name but a few. But with Governments Net Zero carbon strategy, Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) and the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme (LADS) now to be supplemented by ECO 4, means that the project pipeline was only going to get stronger and there had probably never been a better time to invest in EWI.

Andrew also extolled the virtues of the new SWIGA website and online portal creating a virtually frictionless gateway for making pre-notifications and guarantee applications. He urged any members who had not yet used the portal to give it a go.

He also described the introduction of a new membership type. This would include housing professionals working in our sector. They will be given access to extensive technical information, publications and partnering organisations. Current System Designer and Contractor members will be able to engage with these new members hopefully providing opportunities and mutual benefits for all members.

Andrej Miller of BEIS set out the details of the government’s response to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) consultation. Which will be hopefully starting on the 30th June. It will run until March 2026. The scheme, worth £4 billion, delivers energy efficiency and heating measures to homes in Great Britain.

ECO4 will continue to be GB wide, making delivery simpler across the three nations.

Government will allow up to 10% of ECO3 delivery to be carried over into ECO4, subject to certain measure exclusions. Furthermore, to support supply chain delivery, between 1 April 2022 – 30 June 2022, measures can be installed to ECO3 rules, subject to latest installation standards and certain measure exclusions. They will also permit early delivery of ECO4 measures during any gap between ECO regulations. They will not, however, permit carry-under from the current obligation period as it is unlikely to be required.

ECO4 will continue to be focused on low income and vulnerable or fuel poor households in band D-G homes. To support households on the lowest incomes, as proposed, households in receipt of means tested benefits will be eligible. As consulted, they will allow up to 50% of the obligation target to be met under the reformed ECO4 Flex, which is designed to target households on low incomes, but not in receipt of benefits. This referral route will be voluntary for local authorities, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government (the devolved administrations) and suppliers.

ECO is a key policy in protecting low income families unable to heat their homes cost effectively, exacerbated by high gas and electricity costs. ECO4 will also support low income households living in the least efficient private rented accommodation and social housing in bands E-G.

Private rented tenants will benefit where more costly measures are needed to upgrade the home.

Government will implement a solid wall minimum target of 90,000 solid wall measures over the 4-year scheme. Alongside this, to focus support on the least energy efficient homes, a minimum equivalent upgrade of 150,000 private tenure band E, F and G homes will be introduced. On balance, therefore, based on updated modelling they have decided that setting a slightly increased SWMR than proposed in the consultation at an equivalent of 90,000 measures for ECO4 is appropriate, alongside the private tenure EFG minimum equivalent of 150,000 homes.

The SWMR for a supplier will be equal to one SWI measure per £2,492 of their HHCRO19. Given SWI is an eligible measure for all ECO4 tenures and as an in-fill measure, where prices are competitive, and the supply chain is sufficient they would expect SWI (either external or internal) to be delivered in most of these solid wall homes to meet the MR which will be more effective at alleviating fuel poverty over the longer term for these households over alternative measures. Having a SWMR should also provide sufficient certainty alongside delivery through HUG and SHDF, for the SWI supply chain to invest and grow to meet the increased demand for SWI which should bring costs down. Government maintains the view that providing measures at zero cost to the consumer is key to ensure a fair and equitable delivery of the scheme. Where needed, as part of the total energy efficiency retrofit work at a property, a home could receive packages of measures before or after ECO4 via multiple government energy efficiency schemes, such as HUG and SHDF, albeit not to fund the same measure(s).

Innovation will be reformed, with an introduction of two uplifts, so that improvements can be rewarded and differentiated between relative and substantial improvements against standard counterparts available in the market.
Government will introduce score uplifts of 35% in off-gas rural areas in Scotland and Wales will incentivise delivery in areas that may be harder to reach.
ECO4 is structured in such a way that it puts fabric first and that SWI will contribute a very significant numbers and that the 90,000 minima is expected to be exceeded.
For more information follow the links.

Cataylist Housing’s Darren Marr presented on some of the challenges that Social Housing providers face when upgrading the thermal fabric of their properties. Catalyst have merged with the Peabody Trust and will manage over 100,000 homes are wanting to work with our members and SWIGA to deliver solid wall insulation to the most needy tenants.

EON’s Steve Lauri was very enthusiastic about the opportunity ECO 4 will bring to the industry. He had no concerns about achieving their target of 22,000 solid walls over the next 4 years which he believed would be easily exceeded and was looking for supply partners among SWIGA members. They already had a significant pipeline of work as result of details of individual who were unable to be provided for under ECO3. There will be £12,000 available for homeowners who are fuel poor to install solid wall insulation and much more for those in rural areas, off-gas, requiring multiple measures. With energy prices as they are number of those qualifying for funding will significantly increase.

Andrew Champ returned to give an update of PAS and brought us right up to date with the progress SWIGA, NIA and INCA have made to remove the wholesale ban of verge trims with hopefully the introduction of robust verge trim detail, without which would result in a barrier for many solid wall properties being viable for solid wall insulation. Trials were currently underway and members were invited to join the trials if they had suitable projects. The sooner the trials can be completed the faster revisions can be made to re-introduce verge trim detail.

David Lawrence summed up what had been highly informative and enlightening day. Emphasising the extremely low failure rate of 0.2% for SWIGA. That SWIGA members had been successfully installing solid wall insulation for almost 40 years. That solid wall insulation had not only the power to insulate but also to regenerate.

SWIGA members who wish to provide the agency with case studies and good new stories about projects they have been involved with should send them in and we will feature them on the website.              
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