Citizens Advice response to Energy Company Obligation ECO4: 2022 - 2026
Citizens Advice welcomes the opportunity to respond to this important consultation on the proposals for the future of the Energy Company Obligation ECO4, 2022-2026.
Overall we are pleased to see the improvements to increase targeting under ECO4 alongside, and we encourage suppliers to implement a ‘worst first’ approach. We welcome the minimum requirements for improving energy efficiency bands which will incentivise a whole house approach and help to pull more households out of fuel poverty. The minimum requirement of Band D for homes categorised as Band F and G is particularly important given the interim target of Band D by 2025 with the 2030 target of Band C. Over 3 million households still remain in fuel poverty and it is important to recognise these homes will need help and support in order to reach the minimum energy efficiency targets. ECO4 also does not have specific targets for the number of fuel poor households helped. Citizens Advice recommends that the government report on the proportion of the measures under the scheme actually going to households in fuel poverty, including those in the deepest fuel poverty.
We welcome BEIS’s commitment to removing the supplier thresholds, and introducing a buy-out mechanism for smaller suppliers following primary legislation. This will improve the fairness of the scheme and is something we have long supported.
Our concerns remain around the involvement of client contributions throughout ECO4 measures and we would urge government to remove these, or at the very least implement a cap.
We continue to have concerns about the expansion of LA Flex given the significant increase proposed from 25% up to 50% of all measures delivered via this route in ECO4. It is unclear if local authorities will have the resources and capabilities to effectively participate and engage in the scheme and there is potential the postcode lottery already observed will continue. This is increasingly important as it remains the main pathway alongside Supplier Flex for fuel poor homes who are not in receipt of means-tested benefits to access the scheme. All consumers should be able to receive the same access to support and help through ECO regardless of where they live, including those in rural and isolated areas.