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Leeds Meeting To Create Jobs

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

GMB Fix Meeting Between British Gas And Leeds Council To Unlock £25m Insulation Cash To Give Work And Help Households Pay Their Energy Bills

We know that British Gas will agree to support the local supply chain and potentially create jobs in local communities says GMB.

GMB, the union for workers in energy and public sectors, has set up a meeting between British Gas and Leeds City Council to unlock up to £25m of funds earmarked for insulating people’s homes in order to find work for insulation workers now standing idle in Leeds.

Under a government scheme energy companies are obliged to spend money on insulating homes and installing more energy efficient measures for the most needy. The scheme is known as Energy Company Obligation (ECO). ECO replaced earlier programmes CESP and CERT.

ECO was introduced in January 2013 to reduce the UK’s energy consumption and support people living in fuel poverty. It does this by funding energy efficiency improvements worth around £1.3 billion every year. The ECO will run until March 2015, supporting the installation of energy efficiency measures in low-income households and areas, and in properties that are harder to treat.

Since CSEP and CERT ended and ECO was introduced there has been a massive fall off in insulation work, as the new obligation makes it harder to find qualifying homes. The insulation industry believes 8,000 insulation workers have lost their jobs nationally over the past few months.

In Leeds the British Gas workers who insulate homes are struggling for work. The teams in Leeds are idle on some days due to a lack of work under the ECO regime. The lack of work is hitting earnings and is damaging for morale.

GMB is urging Leeds City Council to agree multi million pound deals, under ECO, to generate work, create jobs and help people reduce their energy bills. GMB points to a recent multi million pound agreement with Plymouth City Council as an example of what could be done.

GMB believes upwards of £25 million is available to Leeds and that hundreds of jobs could be created as a result.

The Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) was created as part of the government's Home Energy Saving Programme. It required gas and electricity suppliers and electricity generators to deliver energy saving measures to domestic consumers in specific low income areas of Great Britain. CESP was designed to promote a 'whole house' approach and to treat as many properties as possible in defined areas.

The Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) was a statutory obligation on the six largest energy suppliers to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in the domestic sector. CERT came into effect on 1 April 2008. In February 2009 the Government proposed amendments to the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target and this was extended to 2012.

Tim Roache GMB Regional Secretary said "It is utter madness, British Gas have tens of millions of pounds that they are desperate to spend. That money will keep our members busy and create hundreds of more jobs locally.

We know that British Gas will agree to support the local supply chain and potentially create jobs in local communities.

On top of this, thousands of people in Leeds could have their homes insulated. There are many problems with the government's ECO regime but it does allow for homes that were previously deemed hard to treat and that were left un-insulated to now be insulated. The benefits to households in some of our most deprived communities are massive.

We need urgent and decisive leadership from Leeds City Council and others to get things moving.

We have a meeting coming up but the situation is desperate. We don't want this huge opportunity to be lost in bureaucracy. Plymouth has shown that things can be done and quickly where the leadership is right."

End

Contact: Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary 07710 618 909 or Tim Roache, GMB Regional Secretary 07961 719545 or Neil Derrick, GMB Senior Regional Officer 07958 156 832.  GMB Press Office 07921 289 880 or 07974 251 823

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