Council tax rebate for energy efficient homes

Householders in Braintree, Essex, will become the first in the country to benefit from a green incentive offering a £100 rebate on their council tax bills for installing cavity wall insulation.

British Gas has worked directly with local authorities to establish the initiative, and has been lobbying government for two years to offer tax breaks as an incentive to reduce energy waste in the home.

Any household that installs cavity wall insulation can claim the rebate and, with an estimated 10.3 million homes in the UK with insufficient insulation, a number of other local authorities, including East Renfrewshire, West Scotland and Manchester, are considering proposals for similar schemes.

Mark Clare, Managing Director British Gas said this was the first carrot to reward homeowners for energy saving: “Many lower income households have taken advantage of existing energy-saving programmes but it takes eye-catching incentives to motivate middle income households which are not eligible for free measures and perhaps haven’t yet seen the need to save energy and reduce their costs.”

In addition to the £100 reduction, the package will also provide a Home Energy Audit and energy efficient lightbulbs.

The money-back initiative has been welcomed by Braintree District Council as well as conservation groups such as Friends of the Earth. However, all were agreed that there is still much to do.

“This is a radical start but the government must consider other mechanisms, such as stamp duty tax breaks and landlord incentives, to create a step change to hit the ambitious targets to improve domestic energy efficiency,” Mr Clare warned.

Estimates show that wasted energy costs the UK over £5 billion each year, a significant portion of which is attributable to the 10.3 million homes across the UK that do not have efficient insulation. These homes would primarily have been built before cavity wall insulation was required under the Building Regulations Act of 1990.

By David Hopkins

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