Energy Minister outlines plans for reform to Renewable Heat Incentive to benefit Social Landlords & Poorer Households

Social Landlords can welcome the news that implementing energy efficiency measures will be made far simpler under proposed changes to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The energy minister, Amber Rudd, yesterday proclaimed that from next spring, social landlords will no longer be obligated to undergo a Green Deal energy efficiency assessment to be eligible for the payments which accompany the RHI scheme.

Instead, if social landlords already possess Energy Performance Certificates, which are under 2 years old, for their properties they can renounce the Green Deal Assessment and continue receiving payments.

Social landlords work within housing associations, striving to provide low-cost ësocial housingí to the destitute, and although they are state funded they remain non-profit making bodies.

Ms Rudd said: “Renewable heating is a win-win for everyone – landlords, tenants and the environment,” Rudd said.

“Social landlords often provide homes for some of the most vulnerable people, by making the RHI more accessible to them we hope more of their tenants will be able to enjoy warmer homes and lower bills.”

Given the increasingly unforgiving stance taken by power companies in their demands for up-front payment, many families residing in social housing struggle to pay their gas & electricity bills.

Juneís statistics from the Department of Energy & Climate Change forecasted that 2.33m houses could reside in fuel poverty by the end of 2014, with almost a fifth of these residing in social houses.

Sophie Neuburg, Friends of the Earth fuel poverty campaigner said at the time: ìItís completely unacceptable that millions of people across Britain are still struggling to pay their bills.

ìWith more fuel price hikes expected in future, a comprehensive, publicly funded energy efficiency programme to insulate every low-income home in the country is urgently required.

ìSlashing energy waste would not only save households hundreds of pounds every year, it would also create jobs, tackle climate change and reduce our reliance on overseas fossil fuels.î

With such grave ramifications in the offing, Ms Ruddís announcement yesterday is most welcome and has certainly gone some way to simplifying the process whilst placing power in the hands of social landlords to make the provision of energy that much more cost-effective for their downtrodden tenants.

Andrew Burke, of the National Housing Federation said: ìThese changes to the RHI will reduce the unnecessary bureaucracy and costs for Social Landlords applying for RHI but the real benefit will be for their tenants, who will have warmer homes and lower energy bills. Renewable heating makes a big difference by reducing fuel poverty in off-gas grid areas.î

An additional reform to the RHI is an expansion to the list of appliances eligible for the scheme which will now include cooker stoves ñ multi-purpose stoves fuelled by biomass ñ from Spring 2015.

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