England and Wales excluded from new fund

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OFTEC director general, Jeremy Hawksley urges MPs to fight government discrimination against oil-fired boilers
OFTEC has written to 232 MPs representing rural constituencies across England and Wales in reaction to the government’s new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund announced recently.

The scheme aims to encourage homeowners to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions by offering a grant of up to £1,500 to install a new condensing boiler alongside one other Green Deal insulation measure. However, as only gas-fired boilers are covered by the scheme, this will exclude an estimated 850,000 homes in rural England and Wales that use oil.

Jeremy Hawksley, OFTEC’s director general, says: “The design of this scheme clearly discriminates against rural households which are off mains gas and, in particular, prevents those living in fuel poverty in rural areas from accessing government funds available to householders on the gas network.

“We’ve been informed that ministers were advised that the recently launched domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) must be the only option for rural homes on oil, although gas homes can choose either the RHI or a simpler boiler upgrade.”

OFTEC has also actively voiced its concerns about the domestic RHI scheme since its inception, arguing that the considerable upfront investment required by homeowners to install renewable technologies makes the scheme fit for only the wealthy few.

“The government is failing to introduce energy efficiency measures for the fuel-poor households using oil. Typically these are more at risk of fuel poverty because their homes tend to be older, poorly insulated and therefore cost more to heat. It is quite wrong for the government to expect everyone on oil to be able to access the RHI and thus exclude them from this Green Deal subsidy,” adds Jeremy.

A Consumer Focus report estimates that 29% of rural homes in England and 47% in Wales are in fuel poverty.

OFTEC has been lobbying the government to reintroduce a boiler scrappage scheme to help rural households who either can’t afford to install renewable heating or where the property means renewable heat simply is not viable.