40,000 families to get warm homes boost

Over 40,000 families living in cold and draughty rented properties across 59 local authorities in England and Wales could get warmer homes under plans to help councils clamp enforce the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is giving £4.3 million grants to councils to help them target the worst performing properties with advertising campaigns.

Since April last year privately rented homes must meet a minimum energy performance rating of EPC Band E, making it illegal to rent out homes below that unless landlords have a limited exemption.

Landlords caught failing to fulfil their obligations can be fined up to £5,000 per property and per breach.

However, the funding is dwarfed by the multi-billion pound cuts suffered by councils over the last decade.

The biggest budget cuts were seen between 2009/10 and 2015/16, with drops by more than half.

Cities in the north of England were much harder hit than those elsewhere in Britain, with seven of the 10 cities with the largest cuts in the North East, North West or Yorkshire, the Centre for Cities think tank says.

And on average northern cities saw a cut of 20% to their spending.

Shadow Housing Secretary Lucy Powell said: “This is a deeply unambitious programme which comes with no enforcement.

“Many of those living in private rented homes face soaring rent and costs, have little negotiating power, and the threat of eviction if they ask for improvements.

“This announcement seems to bear little relation to the reality that many live in.”

But Business Minister Lord Callanan said: “This funding will help councils to support landlords with these important energy efficiency changes, but also enforce these standards, helping tackle fuel poverty and ensuring everyone can live in a warm home with fair energy bills.

“Heating our homes and buildings makes up almost a third of all carbon emissions, meaning raising the energy efficiency of our properties is something we all have to contribute to help us build back greener and reach our world leading climate ambitions.”

It comes as the Government announced grants worth £5,000 for Brits to replace their gas boilers with more eco-friendly heat pumps.

The PM insists the cash will be a vital lifeline to British homeowners as ministers prepare to ban the installation of new gas boilers from 2035.

But it will not cover the full cost of installing a heat pump – with homeowners having to dig out thousands of pounds on top.

And not all homeowners in the country will be able to access the grant worth £450million of taxpayer cash in total, which would be enough for around 90,000 heat pump grants.

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