What is ECO4 Flex?

Did you know that your local Council has the ability to bend the rules of ECO4 funding to allow vulnerable households to receive energy efficiency upgrades?

ECO4 Flex is a scheme that allows councils to tailor their ECO4 funding and support those in greatest need, ensuring households across the country are not left behind.

ECO4 Flex gives councils the ability to adjust their ECO4 requirements depending on the characteristics of individual households. This means that they can provide extra assistance to those who may not otherwise have had access to energy efficiency upgrades.

All that and more in this blog post. But before we get into all the details, we must first ask:

What is ECO4?

The fourth phase of the Energy Company Obligation scheme is called ECO4.

It’s a government energy efficiency scheme designed to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty in England, Scotland and Wales by delivering home energy efficiency improvements to those who need them most.

The ECO4 scheme primarily provides funding for insulation and heating measures for the UK’s most fuel-poor and vulnerable households. These measures often include internal wall insulation, loft insulation and boiler replacements.

Under ECO4, energy companies are required to deliver carbon-saving measures in domestic properties of low-income households or those living in fuel poverty, with the grant covering the majority of the overall cost.

What is ECO4 Flex?

Considering that to apply for standing ECO4 funding the applicants must be in receipt of government benefits, not every vulnerable household can apply for funding.

That’s where ECO4 Flex comes in to help.

ECO4 Flex is an additional element of the government scheme that’s been introduced to bring the opportunity of ECO4 funding to thousands of low-income UK homes that would have otherwise been ineligible for the grant.

Also known as the Local Authority Flex Scheme, ECO4 Flex is a household referral scheme within the ECO4 infrastructure. This aspect of the ECO4 scheme allows Local Authorities and Councils to widen the eligibility criteria for ECO4.

By bending the eligibility criteria, each Local Authority can provide ECO funding and energy-efficient schemes tailored to their respective area and sector.

Under the LA Flex Scheme, a Local Authority can refer private tenants that are considered to be living in fuel poverty, with a low income or are vulnerable to the negative effects living in a cold home can have on one’s health.

This gives those based in the private rental sector access to ECO4 energy efficiency grants and funding, something they would not normally be eligible for.

Aims of ECO4 Flex

The ECO4 Flex scheme has the aim of providing the 12.6 million UK homes with an Energy Performance Certificate of D or lower with the opportunity of improving the energy efficiency of their property.

In addition to helping UK residents improve their homes and lower their energy bills, expanding the eligibility criteria can help suppliers meet the obligation targets set out for them to reach by 1 April 2026.

Do I qualify for ECO4 Flex?

So now we know what ECO4 Flex is, how do you know if you’re eligible for funding?

Regardless of which route you apply through, to benefit from government ECO funding, you must be a UK resident living in a property with an Energy Performance Certificate of D or below.

Additionally, your Local Authority must have applied to participate in LA Flex, and have submitted a statement of intent on its website regarding the matter. They must have also contacted Ofgem with a declaration notification.

Now, let’s take a look at the four routes you could gain Local Authority ECO4 funding

Route 1: Household combined income

One way to gain ECO4 Flex funding is by being able to prove you have a combined gross household income of £31,000.

This figure must include every 18+ person living at the address, including elderly residents and lodgers.

This proof of income can be proven through the most recent year’s tax return, P60 or annual income pension statement. A P45 from the last three months or an individual’s most recent three payslips can also be used.

Confirming the number of individuals in the residence can be done via tenancy agreements, council tax letters, soft credit checks, electoral registers or mortgage statements.

Route 2: Proxy targeting

Proxy targeting is another way UK residents can gain ECO4 Flex funding. Through this route, households living in E, F or G EPC bands can gain funding as long as they meet at least two of the qualifying proxies.

  1. Quality of the home registers 1-3 on the Lower-layer Super Output Area (LSOA) or in Welsh provision LSOA on the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation 20195. It could also register in the Index of Multiple Deprivation for 2020 published by the Scottish Government.
  2. Householder receives Council Tax rebate
  3. Householder is vulnerable to living in a cold home
  4. Householder receives free school meals for low income
  5. Householders are supported by a scheme run by a Local Authority due to low income or being a vulnerable household.
  6. The household has been referred to Local Authority for support by Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland or their energy supplier due to their struggles with energy bills.
  7. Any household identified through supplier debt data.

Route 3: NHS Referrals

Alternatively, residents suffering from a long-term and/or severe health condition could receive LA Flex funding.

For example, these health conditions could fall under limited mobility, a respiratory disease, immunosuppression or a cardiovascular condition.

This route must be backed up with a NHS referral letter that has been signed by an individual from the NHS Trust, NHS Trust Board or the General Practitioner Register.

Route 4: Bespoke Targeting

The last way residents can gain ECO4 Flex funding is by submitting a proposal via an application form to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (formerly BEIS).

This route helps discover ways for those who cannot apply via the other three routes but are still struggling with an energy-inefficient home.

Each proposal will be reviewed and assessed accordingly via a BEIS panel who will decide if the property is eligible.

Is there another way to get ECO funding?

Despite there being four routes to ECO4 Flex funding, you still may be unable to gain a government grant even though you live in a property with an EPC of D or below.

Well, good news, you could always apply through the Great British Insulation Scheme!

Formally known as ECO Plus, this brand-new government scheme targets the hundreds and thousands of UK homes that are not in receipt of government benefits but are living in a property with an EPC of D or below.

Contact a member of the So Eco team today or complete our free online eligibility checker to discover if you’re eligible for free (or heavily discounted) ECO funding. Our team is always on hand and happy to help.

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