LA Flex forms part of the government-backed ECO (Energy Company Obligation) scheme giving local authorities a greater say in defining eligibility for ECO funding. The purpose of ECO is to help eligible households across the country lower their carbon footprint and energy bills by providing funding to install energy efficient improvements. The LA Flex element of the scheme is designed to help homeowners and private tenants, who do not receiving any benefits but have low household income, and are considered likely to be vulnerable living in their cold energy inefficient properties.
The grant funding available can pay all or part of the cost of fitting energy saving measures like air source and ground source heat pumps to name a few examples. Local Authorities, through LA Flex, will now be able to determine the eligibility criteria in their area. In many situations, these criteria extend beyond benefits received and income, to also take into account factors such as illnesses, pregnancy, number of children in a household, or the age of the occupants.
How does LA Flex work?
Local Authorities are empowered under LA Flex to set their own criteria and work with ECO-accredited agents and installers to achieve energy-saving improvements, such as heat pumps, for homes that would benefit from them.
LA Flex in ECO3
In the previous rendition of ECO, ECO3, energy companies were allowed to use LA Flex for up to 25% of their obligation. This made the route to funding more important than the previous phases of the ECO scheme. To use this initiative in ECO3, local authorities were required to publish a Statement of Intent (Sol) that outlines the eligibility criteria they have control over.
LA Flex in ECO4
With the success of LA Flex in ECO3, it has been confirmed that it will remain in place for the fourth and last version of the ECO scheme. Also, under the terms of ECO4, energy suppliers will be able to provide up to 50% of their obligation through Local Authority Flexible Energy, which is double the amount that was previously permitted.
What should be included in a Statement of Intent?
A Sol needs to include a description of how a local authority intends to identify residents in its area who will benefit from energy efficient measures in their homes. The criteria must state that householders can qualify if they have a low overall income and high heating bills. Additionally, it has to be stated that those on a low income and are especially vulnerable to the effects of living in a cold home are eligible. Local authorities have the freedom to define the thresholds and can include any extra criteria they feel is appropriate for residents in their area.
Can I qualify for LA Flex funding?
As previously mentioned, each local authority participating in the scheme is responsible for publishing a Statement of Intent, laying out the criteria that determine whether a household can be eligible for ECO funding. All of the local authorities will have their own criteria, which will vary from council to council, so it is worth checking which criteria, including income, age, health, and property type, are likely to be relevant.