Eight of the largest trade unions in the UK have urged the Labour party to create domestic energy efficiency policies that would reduce fuel poverty and cut consumer bills, while creating jobs and helping the environment.
A letter to Labour leader Ed Miliband was signed by unions including Unison, Prospect, Unite, the University and College Union and GMB.
The organisations outlined a number of measures – based on the Warm Homes report from Unison – they want included in the party’s energy efficiency policies.
One recommendation is a strategy to bring all homes in the UK up to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) standard B and C.
The unions also called for the introduction of grants for energy efficient measures, with a cap of £10,000. The eventual aim of this would be to bring at least two million households to EPC level B and C by 2020, and for all six million low-income homes to achieve this rating by 2025.
Furthermore, Labour has been urged to promote energy efficiency loans by offering zero interest for those able to pay, while introducing a street-by-street delivery programme led by local authorities.
According to Unison’s Warm Homes report, strategies such as these could save consumers between £300 and £600 a year and preserve local gas supplies.
The unions warned that the UK is approaching “crisis point” in terms of gas resources and could be forced to import up to 70 per cent of gas from abroad within the next five years.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said the government’s Green Deal scheme, which is designed to make it easier for homeowners to introduce energy-saving improvements, has “failed miserably”.
He added: “It is a national tragedy that five million homes are languishing in fuel poverty because of poorly insulated homes, and it is these households that are the least well prepared to absorb future increases in energy prices.
“What we desperately need is a strategy that will address the UK’s energy crisis by eliminating the need for large-scale fracking and bring millions of people in from the cold.”
In June this year, the government launched the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund to offer more money back for households introducing energy efficiency measures. The scheme proved so popular it exhausted its budget and was closed to new applications after six weeks.