UK to launch new billion-pound home insulation programme

LONDON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Britain's government intends to make 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) of public funding available for home insulation projects from early next year, widening access to assistance that was previously only available to poorer households.

The government said the proposed scheme would run from early 2023 until March 2026 and would help meet a recent target to reduce energy consumption by 15% by 2030.

"Our new ECO+ scheme will help hundreds of thousands of people across the UK to better insulate their homes to reduce consumption, with the added benefit of saving families hundreds of pounds each year," finance minister Jeremy Hunt said in a statement on Monday.

Britain is currently facing its biggest squeeze on living standards on record, according to government forecasters, driven largely by a surge in energy costs since Russia's invasion of Ukraine pushed up natural gas prices across Europe.

Government subsidies for household energy bills are already forecast to cost 25 billion pounds this financial year and 13 billion pounds in 2023/24.

Business and energy secretary Grant Shapps said the insulation programme would help make Britain less reliant on imported energy.

Existing insulation subsidies are targeted towards people in social housing or who are on low incomes.

Under the new plan, up to 80% of the subsidies will be available to people do not qualify for income-based assistance, but whose homes are not energy efficient and fall outside the top bands for local property taxes.

The 1 billion pounds of funding comes from a 12.6 billion pound energy efficiency budget to cover the years up to 2028, which Hunt expanded in a fiscal statement on Nov. 17.

British energy companies suggested a similar scheme in September, and the precise details will be subject to public consultation and parliamentary approval.

Shapps also said the government was launching an 18 million pound public information campaign to encourage the public to draught-proof their homes, turn down radiators in empty rooms, and run boilers at lower temperatures.

($1 = 0.8269 pounds)

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Conor Humphries

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