Leaders from more than 50 of the UK’s leading companies and professional institutes operating in the built environment have signed a letter addressed to David Cameron urging the Government not to scale back schemes such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) in a bid to reduce consumers’ energy bills.

The letter, coordinated by the UK Green Building Council, includes signatures from chief executives from a range of firms including E.ON, Carillion and Saint-Gobain and follows Cameron’s statement in Parliament last week that “we need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges that are putting up bills”.

The letter argues that energy efficiency is the “only sure way” to protect households against rising bills in the long-term, and that rolling back ECO, which is designed to improve the energy efficiency of vulnerable and low income households and ‘hard to treat’ properties, would instead increase energy bills for these consumers and have “severe consequences” for jobs in the sector.

The leaders also urge the Prime Minister to consider using additional incentives such as Stamp Duty to encourage uptake of the Green Deal, which could help reduce the cost of ECO.

The letter states that more energy efficient homes would attract a slightly lower level of Stamp Duty, in much the same way as a more efficient car attracts a lower level of car tax – which has been “remarkably successful in shifting consumer buying behaviour”.

UK Green Building Council chief executive Paul King said: “Business leaders are sending a powerful message to David Cameron – do not scrap the Energy Company Obligation. Cutting back schemes designed to boost energy efficiency is an incredibly short-sighted view and one that will only result in higher bills in the medium to long-term for those most vulnerable from rocketing energy prices.

“Energy efficiency is the only guaranteed way to combat rising energy bills and it defies belief that the Prime Minister is considering ‘rolling back’ one of the Government’s biggest initiatives to achieve this.”

Last week’s comments from Cameron are a u-turn from his statement earlier this month, where he defended “necessary” green subsidies on energy bills to fund wind and nuclear power.

Leigh Stringer

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