Households will be able to apply for £8,000 grants to make their homes more energy-efficient, energy secretary Ed Davey promised yesterday.
Through an extension to the Green Deal Improvement Fund, homeowners will be able to install more efficient boilers, solar panels or other energy-saving measures. He also confirmed plans for £100 to be lopped off the council tax bill for more energy-efficient homes.
"Today I can announce an extra one hundred million pounds to help people cut their energy bills," he told the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow yesterday.
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"We will extend the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund that proved so popular earlier this year. New boilers. Double glazing. Better insulation. So people can permanently cut their bills."
The Green Deal scheme was launched at the beginning of last year, offering loans to carry out energy-saving improvements. However, it was widely criticised for its complicated sign-up process, £120 assessment fee and uncompetitive rate of interest. As a result, there was a very poor takeup - fewer than 4,000 sign-ups in seven months.
The scheme was relaunched this June, with a bit more on offer: grants of up to £1,000 to install two energy saving improvements, £6,000 for solid wall insulation and £100 towards the assessment cost, along with an extra £500 for people who had bought their home in the past year. However, the fund closed in July after the allocated £120 million ran out.
"Green Deal Home Improvement Fund vouchers went like hot cakes earlier in the year and now even more people can cut their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient," says Davey.
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'Only a temporary solution'
People will be able to apply for the new round of grants by the end of next month - although there's no information yet on terms and conditions, rates or the measures to be covered.
The UK Green Building Council has welcomed the extra funding - but says it is only a temporary solution.
"There's no doubt that the Lib Dems understand the importance of home retrofit, and Ed Davey should be applauded for securing the cash from Treasury. But we need to move beyond stop-start incentives which damage business confidence," says director of policy and communications John Alker.
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"This funding could see us through to the General Election, but what happens after that? All parties must recognise that home energy efficiency is an infrastructure priority, with public investment needed to support the most vulnerable and to create the confidence for the private sector to scale up investment over the long term."
Read moreabout the Green Deal on AOL Money:
More cash back in new Green Deal
Green Deal finance now available
Slow uptake for Green Deal scheme