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How Liz Truss’s government can achieve energy security and savings this winter

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Sarah Kostense-Winterton, Executive Director

Sarah Kostense-Winterton, Executive Director | Mineral Wool Insulation Manufacturers Association

4 min read Partner content

The Prime Minister must trust British insulation businesses to deliver.

“Deliver, deliver, deliver” the new PM, Liz Truss proclaimed many times during the leadership election. The insulation industry along with the rest of the supply chain is ready to do just that. Warehouses of insulation are ready and waiting to be installed into lofts, floors and walls.

However, the PM must “Invest to Save” in our businesses to deliver household energy bill savings and British energy security through improved energy efficiency. In return the PM will win a resilient, sustainable and booming energy efficiency market.

Whilst the PM focuses on increasing energy supply, energy demand reduction is just as vital, and can have impact sooner. It is the most practical and long-term solution to the energy cost crisis. Truss must engage British retrofit businesses – integral to her pro-growth approach – to really deliver in spades or should I say insulation!

Mere months ago, the new Chancellor and former Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng proclaimed that building energy efficiency is the permanent solution for lower fuel bills. Improving the least efficient homes to a ‘C’ rating or higher could save householders over £900 per year on energy bills, an aggregate annual saving of more than £10bn.

Policy options, ideas and schemes already exist and can be implemented or expanded without delay, or in the shorter- term, piloted with minimal fuss. Existing energy efficiency schemes targeted at the most in need such as the Home Upgrade Grant, the Local Authority Delivery scheme, and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, as well as ECO4 – can be boosted, simultaneously fulfilling Conservative Manifesto commitments.

Support now needs to go even further to encompass households under increasing strain from new financial pressures and not covered by current energy efficiency schemes. This support could be channelled via existing mechanisms including an industry-led, Government-backed, “Great British Energy Saving” ECO Plus-style scheme.

Finally, those more able to afford to retrofit their homes can be incentivised to upgrade their homes, propelling action and investment by lenders and homeowners and supporting a sustainable market. Proposals include a revenue-neutral Energy Saving Stamp Duty Incentive to support a gradual shift away from subsidies, as well as low-interest loans made available to households via retail banks and others, underpinned by the new UK Infrastructure Bank.

Everyone is acutely aware of the social, environmental and economic benefits of investing in a nationwide retrofit scheme. It would support nearly 100,000 jobs across all UK regions from 2022 to 2024, on par with the Levelling Up agenda, and secure savings to the NHS of around £1.4bn per annum. Let’s not forget the huge boost to British businesses particularly our SMES, the engine of our economy.

Sarah Kostense-Winterton, MIMA’s Executive Director comments:

“It is not a secret that the cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use. British business can help households save on their  bills by supercharging the installation of energy efficiency measures. It is a no nonsense, permanent solution to reducing energy use, reducing energy bills and boosting energy security over the medium-term.

The government is investing over £130 billion in 2022 alone on necessary support to help people weather the cost-ofliving crisis this winter. Taking an “Invest to Save” energy demand reduction approach now can alleviate the need for multi billion emergency packages in 2023 and beyond as well as reduce public debt and inflation. Only this approach will deliver value for money for the public purse and permanently reduce household bills. In return, PM Truss will have a resilient supply chain of British retrofit businesses.”

With a strong personal and professional interest and expertise in environmentalism, Sarah is Co-Founder and Chair of the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group (EEIG) and Executive Director of MIMA, the UK’s leading insulation trade body. She has over 25 years’ experience in UK and EU public affairs, corporate affairs and strategic communications across a broad range of businesses and industries.

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