ECO4 Flex in Scotland

ECO4 Flex in Scotland: which councils are leading the way?

As we have passed what could be the halfway mark of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme’s fourth phase, ECO4, we wanted to take a look at how funding is being distributed across Scotland and the crucial role councils play in ensuring their residents access these grants. Although ECO4 started in July 2022 and is officially set to run until March 2026, the reality is that energy companies might wrap up their obligations sooner, halting the grants once they reach their obligation and leaving eligible households out in the cold.

ECO4 requires energy suppliers to fund home improvements, but the critical question is: How much of this funding is reaching Scottish households compared to those south of the border? In this blog, we take a closer look at ECO4 Flex, a crucial aspect of the scheme that allows councils to broaden eligibility criteria, making funding accessible to low-income, vulnerable, and health-compromised individuals within each council area. The scheme’s flexible eligibility has significantly increased take-up across numerous Scottish councils, but it requires direct council involvement to ensure the warmth and comfort of its residents. In effect, your wellbeing could be in the hands of the councils which issue (or don’t issue) the flex declarations.

We dive into the latest data from Ofgem to spotlight Scotland’s top-performing councils, showcasing their contributions to a greener, more energy-efficient future and their commitment to their residents. Additionally, we address the challenges faced by councils that have yet to fully capitalise on the scheme, exploring actionable steps they can take to better support their vulnerable residents in the remaining phase of ECO4.

ECO4 Flex Scotland - Statistics Top 3

Full ECO4 Flex Leaderboard for Scottish Councils

Let’s start with the leaderboard for ECO4 Flex applications based on ECO measures installed, by measure type and obligation, by quarter (January 2013 to March 2024)

Dumfries and Galloway are leading the way among Scottish councils, with a notable 23% of all Flex measures installed. It’s clear that Dumfries and Galloway Council has put in the effort to make grant access straightforward for their residents, ensuring those in fuel poverty aren’t left out. This contrasts sharply with some other councils that have limited grant access by only working with certain installers, which can restrict options for their residents.

Meanwhile, urban centers like Glasgow and the Edinburgh are significantly behind, with Glasgow only managing 209 installations. There’s also a worrying lack of installations in councils like Fife and Stirling. These areas really need to step up their game to make sure their residents don’t miss out on available funding. It’s crucial for each council to adopt strategies quickly to ensure everyone has fair access to energy-saving measures while there is still funding available.

The Top Performers: How are Dumfries and Galloway, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire helping so many vulnerable residents?

These councils are making sure their residents are getting the lion’s share of the funding as they have:
 

– Published Statements of Intent early in the scheme

– Onboarded and accepted applications from appropriately registered installers
 
– Clear signposting on their website to help residents access the grants, such as a link to our free grant checker.
ECO4 Flex Scotland How to Improve Take-up

How can ALL Scottish Councils make sure their residents receive their fair share of the £4 billion of funding?

– Ensure their Statement of Intent is live and available on their website
 
– Onboard and accept applications from appropriately-registered installers
 
– Administer flex declarations efficiently with a modest fee or, better still, no charge
 
– Have clear signposting on their website to help inform applicants and provide straightforward access to funding available, such as linking to our free grant checker
 

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Frequently Asked Questions about ECO4 Flex in Scotland

 

The ECO4 Flex scheme is part of the fourth phase of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) initiative, designed to help low-income, vulnerable, and health-compromised households improve their energy efficiency. It allows councils to broaden the eligibility criteria, ensuring that more residents can access the funding for home improvements.

Ways to QualifyAboutIs it ECO4 Flex?
Receiving Benefits

If a household receives Child Tax Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (income-based), Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance (income-based), Pension Credit Savings Credit, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, Universal Credit or  Working Tax Credit

There are no additional income requirements if a household claims an eligible benefit listed.

No
Child BenefitIf a household claims Child Benefit and also meets Child Benefit income rules.No
Health conditionsHealth conditions including respiratory disease, asthma, mobility issues qualifyYes
VulnerableHouseholds that are vulnerable can access the grantsYes
Low-incomeHousehold income must be under £31,000Yes
 
For the ECO4 Flex routes listed above, councils can publish a Statement of Intent on their website and in effect help more people access funding in their area through the widened eligibility criteria.
 
The individual council’s role is simply to sign declarations to say that their residents are eligible; they do not issue funding or deliver the obligation directly. The council must publish a Statement of Intent to include these households. These are known as ECO4 Flex routes.
 
These routes to eligibility ARE considered ECO4 Flex:
 
– Households with a low income – household income must be less than £31,000 per annum
 
– Households where residents have health conditions made worse by living in a cold home (including respiratory disease, asthma, mobility issues)
 
– Households that are vulnerable to the effects of living in a cold home

Unfortunately, nobody that is eligible through the ECO4 Flex routes can apply until their council does publish their statement.

Officially, the ECO4 scheme runs from July 2022 until March 2026. However, energy companies might conclude their obligations sooner if they meet their targets early, potentially halting the availability of grants before the official end date.

There are a range of heating and insulation grants available to help improve energy efficiency in homes. These grants cover a range of measures, including:
 
– Boiler Upgrades: Grants are available to replace old, inefficient boilers with new, energy-efficient models.
 
– Electric Storage Heater Upgrades: Grants are available to upgrade inefficient storage heaters with high heat retention storage heaters or with an air source heat pump.
 
– Central Heating Systems: Funding can be accessed to install or upgrade central heating systems, providing more consistent and cost-effective heating for your home.
 
– Loft Insulation, Cavity Wall Insulation, Solid Wall Insulation and Room-in-Roof Insulation: If your home isn’t insulated, you’ll be losing heat through the walls, floor or ceiling. The grants can help insulate these spaces to keep them warm and energy-efficient.
 
– Renewables: Funding is also available to install heat pumps and solar PV.
 
These grants are designed to make homes warmer, reduce energy bills, and lower carbon emissions, while tackling fuel poverty

To find out if you are eligible for these heating and insulation grants, use the free grant checker available on the Energy Saving Genie website.

Tracking the distribution of ECO4 funding helps ensure that Scottish households receive their fair share compared to those in other parts of the UK. It highlights which councils are effectively utilising the scheme to support their residents and identifies areas that need improvement.

Councils can improve by:

  • Ensuring their Statement of Intent is live and accessible on their website.
  • Onboarding and accepting applications from appropriately registered installers.
  • Administering flex declarations efficiently, ideally with a modest fee or no charge.
  • Providing clear signposting on their website to help residents access available funding, including linking to the free grant checker on the Energy Saving Genie website.

Local council involvement is essential for ECO4 Flex applications as they are responsible for issuing flex declarations that broaden eligibility criteria, making funding accessible to more residents. Their involvement directly impacts the success and reach of the scheme.

Flex declarations are documents issued by local councils that allow them to broaden the eligibility criteria for the ECO4 Flex scheme. This flexibility is crucial for ensuring that more low-income, vulnerable, and health-compromised households can benefit from the funding.

Residents can check their eligibility for ECO4 Flex funding by visiting their local council’s website or using the free grant checker available on the Energy Saving Genie website.

For more information and to check your eligibility, visit the Energy Saving Genie ECO4 Grant Checker.