What is the ECO Flex scheme?
ECO4 is a UK government scheme to supply energy efficient home upgrades to those on certain benefits. Under ECO4, which you can read more about here, local councils can widen the eligibility criteria in order to reach more households. This is referred to as either ECO Flexible Eligibility, ECO Flex, or LA Flex. LA Flex allows for more funding to be provided to local authorities to pinpoint residents who fall short of qualifying for ECO but would benefit from the home upgrades and the cheaper energy bills they bring.
According to Cheshire East Council, “ECO Flex, or ECO Flexible Eligibility is an opportunity for local authorities to set local criteria to be able to refer households to suppliers for support, in recognition of the fact that not all households that need support with improving their homes necessarily receive income related benefits. The purpose of ECO Flexible Eligibility is to identify private households that may benefit from energy saving measures and are:
- Fuel poor households, especially those that are not in receipt of eligible benefits, and the estimated 20% of fuel poor households that are not in receipt of any benefits; and
- Low income household that are vulnerable to the effects of living in a cold home.”
ECO4 LA Flex Eligibility
The qualifying criteria for ECO4 Flex is quite complex. There are several routes to qualification. To understand whether you qualify it is helpful to understand EPC ratings. These are referred to below as SAP bands. SAP stands for Standard Assessment Procedure. A home’s energy performance is calculated using the SAP methodology, and this underpins the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is the government’s system for producing a home energy rating. The charts are divided into 7 SAP bands ranging from A-G, with A being the highest and most energy efficient. Each range has a set amount of points. If your property is not currently on the EPC register it can be assessed in order to qualify. (You can read more about EPC ratings on our blog post here.)
The routes are:
Route 1: SAP bands D-G households with an income less than £31,000. This income cap applies irrespective of property size, composition, or region. But, if your home is privately rented, the qualifying SAP bands will be from between E-G.
Route 2: SAP bands E-G households that meet two of the following proxies:
Proxy 1) Homes in England in Lower-layer Super Output Area 1-3 (LSOA), or homes in Welsh provision LSOA 1-3 on the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019, or the Index of Multiple Deprivation for 2020, published by the Scottish Government. (These refer to the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, Wales, and Scotland in terms of income, employment, education, health, access to services, crime, and housing).
Proxy 1 cannot be used with Proxy 3.
Proxy 2) Householders receiving a Council Tax rebate (rebates based on low income only, excludes single person rebates).
Proxy 3) Householders vulnerable to living in a cold home as identified in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guidance. Only one from the list can be used, excludes the proxy ‘low income’.
Proxy 4) A householder supported by a LA run scheme, that has been named and described by the LA as supporting low income and vulnerable households for the purposes of NICE Guidance.
Proxy 5) A householder receiving free school meals due to low-income.
Proxy 6) A household referred to the LA (local council) for support by their energy supplier or Citizen’s Advice or Citizen’s Advice Scotland, because they have been identified as struggling to pay their electricity and gas bills.
Proxy 7) Non pre-payment meter households will be eligible if in debt for more than 13 weeks and either in a debt repayment plan with their energy supplier or repaying their fuel debt through 3rd party deductions (Supplier only).
Proxy 8) Pre-payment meter households who have been either self-disconnected or received supplier Discretionary/Friendly credit in the last 13 weeks; or in a debt repayment plan with their Energy Supplier; or repaying their fuel debt through 3rd part deductions (Supplier only).
Route 3: SAP bands D-G households that have been identified by their doctor, GP, or Health Board as housing an occupant whose health conditions may be impacted further by living in a cold home. These health conditions may be cardiovascular, respiratory, immunosuppressed, or limited mobility related.
Route 4: SAP band D-G households that are referred under Route 4: Bespoke Targeting. Suppliers and LAs can submit an application to BEIS where they have identified a low income and vulnerable household, who are not already eligible under the existing routes.
What can you receive with ECO Flex?
Under ECO Flex, you can receive the exact same home upgrades as ECO4. Read our other blog post all about ECO4 here. You can receive:
• Boiler upgrades (plus heating controls such as smart thermostats)
• Loft insulation/ room in roof insulation
• External wall insulation
• Internal wall insulation
• Underfloor insulation
• Air source heat pumps
• Electric storage heater upgrades
If you think your household is eligible you can apply through your local council. Contact us if you would like more information. You can also contact us on 0800 024 8505 to see whether you can benefit from another programme.