Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere
Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere

Every week seems to bring a new crisis at the moment, but the one poised to have the biggest real-world impact is soaring energy prices.

I’ve just renewed my energy tariff and the increase in price was eyewatering.

For Boris Johnson to say this is just a “short term problem” and that families aren’t going to struggle shows out of touch he is. Bills are already going up and many more families are going to be faced with a terrible “eat or heat” dilemma this winter.

It’s hard to believe that, with this massive increase in the cost of living, the Government is still planning to push ahead with its £1,000 a year cut to those on the lowest incomes.

There are lots of things the Government could have done over the years to lessen the problem – the decision to close the UK’s Rough Gas Storage facility in 2017 looks particularly short-sighted now – but its failure to properly address Britain’s badly insulated housing is the biggest missed opportunity.

Ipswich Borough Council’s programme of installing double-glazing, loft insulation, energy-efficient boilers, thermal cladding and solar PV in its homes has reduced energy bills for thousands of our tenants.

I well remember one resident of Cumberland Towers telling me that she used to need four heaters to keep her flat warm but, after we installed thermal cladding, she only needs one.

But council housing makes up barely a tenth of the housing in Ipswich. The worst insulated housing is to be found in the private rented sector and the Government still has not got a grip on this.

Its flagship Green Homes Grant was supposed to be the answer. The scheme was launched in September 2020 with the aim of insulating 600,000 homes. It was scrapped just six months later after only managing 47,500, but not before spending over £50million on administration – a nice little earner for someone.

A properly planned and funded national insulation programme, aimed at reaching every home, would lower energy bills, create tens of thousands of jobs, and help tackle climate change.

Until the Government gets these basics right, more and more families will be forced into fuel poverty – and Boris Johnson’s lectures on climate change will lack any moral authority.

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