Consumer: Insulation scheme worth £1.2m is left out in the cold

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A scheme to make homes in east Leeds warmer and help residents save up to 40 per cent on heating bills has been put on hold.

The £1.2m home insulation scheme, due to start this month, has become a casualty of government changes to energy efficiency funding.

Around 150 properties in the Nowells area were due to have solid wall insulation installed by the council’s partner Keepmoat.

The scheme was being paid for by Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding and would have been free of charge for residents.

ECO places an obligation on energy companies to install energy efficiency improvements in low-income households and areas.

But changes to ECO funding were announced as part of the Autumn Statement, meaning that energy companies have cut the amount of funding available for the project by almost two thirds, now making the scheme unaffordable.

Built around 1900, the properties have solid walls making them some of the hardest to heat in the city.

Over 80 per cent of the residents had signed up to be involved with the insulation scheme.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services, said: “It’s extremely disappointing this part of a wider project has stalled due to circumstances outside of our control.

“We’ve gone to great lengths to bring about positive changes that go far beyond making homes energy efficient.

“Through no fault of their own – or of our making – residents have been severely let down by these government changes.”

Coun Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said: “We’re working closely with Keepmoat to explore a range of options to ensure we can help residents in the area cut their heating bills, which are still available across the city under the Wrap Up Leeds ECO scheme.”

Steve Batty, head of sustainability at Keepmoat, said: “Keepmoat remains committed to the scheme and we are continuing to work with Leeds City Council with a view to finding alternative funding.”

Meanwhile, around 450 homes in north Leeds will have had insulation improvements through Leeds-based Synergize. The scheme in the LS16 and LS17 areas will finish at the end of March.

Peter Jones, managing director at Synergize, said: “We have managed to retain a level of funding for the first quarter of the year that will enable us to continue the current programme of work. We are currently looking at securing other funding options.”

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