Felixstowe councillors reject offer of help with home insulation, despite predicted household energy bill increase of more than £1,000 per year

By Siobhan Middleton (local democracy reporter)

24th Nov 2022 | Local News

Tories reject support to help reduce energy bills
Tories reject support to help reduce energy bills

A Suffolk council has turned down an offer from Warwick University to support with home insulation.

East Suffolk Council rejected a proposal to explore an offer from Warwick University to assist on a home insulation pilot programme yesterday.

The motion submitted by the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group of councillors was to consider the university's offer to identify 'clusters' of homes where workers could improve insulation quickly and cost-efficiently.

Cllr Beavan

Although the motion stated this would come at no cost to the council, Cllr David Beavan clarified the costs would involve only finding rooms and an officer for community meetings.

Cllr Beavan, leader of the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group of councillors, said: "What have we got to lose by trying this?

"We know what we could lose if we don't: our residents' money, our country's energy security and ultimately our planet."

A study from Warwick University found the average household in East Suffolk may see increases to energy bills of £1,160 per year.

However, Conservative Cllrs Richard Kerry and Steve Gallant, from from Felixstowe, pointed out what the council was already doing in this area – including securing a £12 million bid from central government and £750,000 from Suffolk Public Sector Leaders to deliver insulation for low-income and low-energy performance households.

Felixstowe councillor Steve Hallant rejected offer to help redcue bills

Cllr Gallant, leader of the council, said: "I think we are already doing a really good job in respect of home insulation and the funding is there.

"Warwick University is in Coventry, and I think the reality is that we should let them work with their local communities on this project."

As well as identifying 'clusters' of homes that could be easily insulated, the proposal included the organisation of community meetings in pilot areas – in which residents could find out more about financial support for insulation and sign up for reduced costs.

Speaking after the vote, Cllr Beavan said: "East Suffolk Council has been lucky enough to be approached by world-leading expert professors from Warwick, one of the UK's top universities, with an offer of free support.

"The Warm Homes Discount Scheme only applies to those with a gross household income of less than £30,000 a year, excluding more than half of East Suffolk households.

"The Conservatives claimed tonight that the council is already doing what the motion proposed.

"If that is the case, I would ask to see what exactly we are doing to facilitate lower costs and help East Suffolk residents to insulate their homes?

"We need to do more than improve council-owned homes, and this motion would have allowed us to help everyone. It's a shame the Conservatives couldn't see it that way."

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