Thousands of jobs 'at risk' if green levies rolled back

Thousands of jobs could be at risk if green levies on energy bills are cut, a North East business has warned

Thousands of jobs could be at risk if green levies on energy bills are cut, a North East business has warned.

Sunderland-based Gentoo has backed warnings by the UK Green Building Council that 10,000 construction and insulation jobs could be lost - many as early as Christmas - if the Government decides to axe the levies.

Energy companies have blamed the levies for pushing up household bills and Prime Minister David Cameron has signalled his desire to “roll back” the incentives.

The Government is expected to announce its intentions in the Autumn Statement on December 5.

Construction firms installing energy efficiency measures through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and manufacturers which make products such as solid wall insulation, fear jobs could be lost if ECO is scrapped or scaled back.

The Association of the Conservation of Energy estimate up to 33,000 people are currently employed delivering ECO and the Green Deal. This should have risen to 60,000 jobs in 2015, according to Government’s own projections.

Last week, Gentoo saw one ECO-funded scheme worth £500,000 withdrawn by an energy company, less than two weeks before it was due to start. Around 100 properties in a severely deprived area have now been left unable to benefit from external insulation works, the company said.

Job offers relating to these schemes have been withdrawn, and around 25 jobs in Gentoo’s supply chain are now not guaranteed.

Three further schemes designated to get under way this winter involving a further 460 households in deprived areas are also unable to proceed, Gentoo said. This puts a further £2.8m of energy efficiency works at risk before the end of the current financial year.

Sally Hancox, director at Gentoo, said: “The position the industry currently finds itself in is extremely serious and we are calling for urgent action to be taken before more jobs are put at risk and vulnerable households left to choose between eating or heating their home this winter.

“We believe the Coalition’s brave, strong initial commitment to ECO remains right; the large scale installation of green measures actively stimulates economic activity, it creates jobs, and addresses the growing issue of fuel poverty.”

Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “The Prime Minister needs to realise that going after ECO in a bid to cut household energy bills could end up costing 10,000 construction and insulation jobs. That will decimate the very industry that is helping people – including some of the most vulnerable in society – reduce their bills in the long-term.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson said: “The Government is looking closely at the impact of green levies on consumer bills and how the measures they support are paid for. Details of the review will be announced in the Autumn Statement, providing clarity for long-term decision-making by industry.”

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