Home insulation and other energy efficiency improvements have plummeted at the “worst possible time” for Britain, Labour has warned, as spiralling bills paint a bleak picture for the cold months ahead.
Analysis by the party found that installations fell by more than 50% in the first half of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021, from a total of 261,315 to 126,131.
It put this down to “failed management” by the Government.
A document from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the “sharp fall” in the second quarter of 2022 – which saw far fewer installations than the first – was due to issues with a transition between efficiency schemes.
Labour said the figure for the second quarter of 2022 was the lowest since 2018.
The party claimed that if ministers had implemented its own “national mission” to boost insulation back when Sir Keir Starmer touted the policy in September 2021, two million of the coldest homes could have been upgraded by this winter.
This would have saved households more than £2 billion on their energy bills this year alone, it said.
Kerry McCarthy, Labour’s shadow minister for climate change, said: “The energy price cap has just soared to record levels and people are terrified of what that means for their bills this winter.
“The Government should have been working round the clock to insulate homes and ensure as many households as possible benefit from lower bills. Its failure to do so despite repeated warnings risks leaving millions out in the cold.
“There is still time for the Government to adopt Labour’s plan to freeze energy bills and protect millions of families this winter. Failing to act would be unforgivable.”
Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, called on the next PM to make energy efficiency a “top priority”.
“The poor level of insulation in UK homes is a shocking testament to the Government’s failure to take this issue seriously,” he said.
“This winter millions of households will be paying sky high bills for heat that will simply escape through roofs, walls and draughty windows and doors.
“The next prime minister must make energy efficiency a top priority and commit to funding a free, street-by-street home insulation programme – focusing on those most in need.”
A BEIS spokesman said: “We are investing £6.6 billion in total this parliament to improve energy efficiency across the country, with the majority of our support targeting those on low-income and vulnerable households.
“Huge progress has already been made, with the number of homes with an energy efficiency rating of C or above at 46% and rising, up from just 14% in 2010.
“This is benefiting tens of thousands of homes and delivering average savings of £300 a year on energy bills.”
Labour’s analysis was based on statistics showing the number of measures installed under the Energy Company Obligation scheme, which helps fuel-poor customers insulate their homes.
BEIS said the figures did not account for the separate Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery scheme, which aims to improve the energy efficiency of low-income households.
The department also said the sharp fall in measures installed was in large part due to the pandemic, as well as the transition between ECO schemes.