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£635 fund to improve energy efficiency in public buildings launched

The government has announced £635 worth of funding to improve energy efficiency in public buildings today, amid calls for funding to insulate homes as energy bills soar.

Public buildings across England, including schools, hospitals, leisure centres and town halls, will be given grants to install low carbon heating, heat pumps, double glazing, and loft insulation.

Through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, officially open for applications in September, it’s thought public sector bodies and taxpayers will be able to save £650m a year on energy bills.

734 grants have already been awarded to public sector organisations, creating an estimated 30,000 jobs in the energy efficiency sector, according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

person in blue pants sitting on brown wooden floor

Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan said: ‘We are already delivering upgrades to hundreds of public buildings across England, making them cheaper to run and saving taxpayers millions of pounds each year.

‘By helping even more public sector bodies ditch costly fossil fuels, we are taking an important step towards a more sustainable future while driving economic growth across the country and continuing to support tens of thousands of jobs.’

Organisations which have already received funding include Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds City Council and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Ministers hope the scheme will help to achieve aims to reduce emissions from public buildings by 75% compared to 2017 levels by 2037 and net zero targets by 2050.

The £635 fund is the second part of an overall £1.425 billion due to be granted through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme between 2022 and 2025.

But some are questioning why the government is not choosing to invest in home insulation, as rising energy bills are leaving households cash-strapped and struggling.

Polly Billington, Chief Executive of UK100, said: ‘The cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use, so it’s great to see that more public buildings will be insulated and supported to be more energy efficient. Amidst an energy price and cost-of-living crisis, this is essential. The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will help local authorities and cash-strapped hospitals save significant sums of money and accelerate action on Local Net Zero.

‘But this vital scheme only highlights the absurdity of the Government’s decision to scrap £1bn plans to help households across the country insulate their draughty homes. The simplest and most cost-effective long-term measures to reduce energy prices for some of the poorest households are seemingly being passed up at every opportunity.

‘We need to fix the roof while the sun is shining and before a freezing cold winter forces people to decide between heating and eating on a scale Britain has not seen before.’

‘As the Green Home Grant has proven, local authorities are best-placed to lead an energy efficiency revolution. And they’re ready to lead but they need support. Any money for insulation and low carbon heating is welcome, but far more is needed, and we need to see it targeted at the people hit hardest by the energy price crisis.’

Photo by Erik Mclean

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