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90% less lofts insulated in 2013
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The number of homes becoming warmer and cheaper to heat under current government-backed insulation schemes fell dramatically in 2013, according to the latest official figures.

The drop was described as serious by the government's own fuel poverty adviser and terrible by Labour. The latest figures show that the number of efficiency measures enabled by government schemes plummeted in 2013 as new policies replaced those of the previous government.

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 1.61m lofts were fully insulated in 2012, but in the year to the end of October 2013, the most recent data released, just 110,000 had been treated, a pro-rata fall of 93%.

For cavity wall insulation, measures fell from 640,000 in 2012 to 125,000 in the year to October 2013, a pro-rata fall of 77%.

The big drops accompanying the start of the coalition's energy company obligation (ECO) and Green Deal schemes in 2013 were predicted by the government's own impact assessments.

ECO schemes, which require energy companies to deliver energy saving measures, account for 98% of the measures installed in 2013, with the Green Deal delivering 2%.

"With a cold winter, rising energy bills and a worrying increase in winter deaths, the plight of the 2.4m households in England struggling with fuel poverty has never been more serious," said Derek Lickorish, chairman of the government's fuel poverty advisory group. "The only sustainable solution to end the misery and health problems of living in a cold home is to improve its energy efficiency through insulation measures. The government must change direction."

He added that it was "perverse" that the 50 curb on the 120 rise in average bills announced in the autumn statement was achieved largely by cutting energy efficiency schemes.

Caroline Flint, Labour's shadow energy secretary, said: "The best way to cut people's energy bills is to invest in insulation and save the energy that escapes through our windows, walls and rooftops.

"These figures show that not only has David Cameron failed to stop the energy companies from overcharging, the number of households getting help to insulate their homes has also collapsed. This terrible reduction in insulation measures could not have come at a worse time."

Labour would replace the Green Deal and overhaul ECO, she added. The number of Green Deal loans for home energy efficiency retrofits had reached just 458 by the end of November. Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker had said that fewer than 10,000 by the end of 2013 would cause him sleepless nights.

The original ambition was to upgrade 14m homes by 2020 vaunted as the nation's biggest property improvement scheme since the rebuilding that followed the second world war.

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