As each party broadcasts their manifesto in the run up to the General Election, John Sinfield comments on the announcements.
Energy efficiency has a fundamental role to play in helping the UK economy to grow.
In tackling cold homes, millions can save money on their energy bills, vulnerable people will be less exposed to cold related illnesses saving the NHS money at a time of national need and the UK as a whole will use less gas from abroad, increasing our energy security.
Every £1 spent achieving these outcomes could grow the national economy by £3.20.
Manifestos released this week recognise these benefits, but policy stability has to go further than statements of ambition.
Using less energy is an easy win for the UK economy, but the next six months may make or break this opportunity. We look forward to working with the next government to deliver growth and a clear programme for warm homes that can make this happen.
On this basis, we welcome the clear emphasis placed upon a new, ambitious, whole house approach to tackling the cold homes crisis set out by the Liberal Democrats in their comprehensive manifesto.
We also welcome ongoing commitments by both the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party to ensure that energy efficiency is a national infrastructure priority if either party forms a part of the next government. Although it must be noted, at the manifesto stage, only the Liberal Democrats indicate they would use infrastructure capital spending to part-fund a large scale renovation programme.
The Conservative manifesto notes the needs faced by millions of families, but offers a very low level of ambition – pledging insulation support for only one million homes over the next five years. This is an 80% drop in the number of homes helped compared to the 2010 to 2015 period - figures that include measures delivered in current underperforming schemes ECO and Green Deal.
While the challenges of setting out the ambition for the next parliament term begin in May, a more immediate problem must also be addressed. The current Energy Company Obligation term, due to end in 2017 will almost certainly be complete much earlier. Without clear action early in the next parliament vulnerable people will not continue to receive help throughout 2016.
John Sinfield is managing director of Knauf Insulation Northern Europe