Lack of compliance with energy rules leaves taxpayer with £5.7m bill

The company that runs the national register of Energy Performance Certificates is getting £5.7 million in compensation from the taxpayer because so few certificates have been registered that its revenue didn’t cover its costs.

Landmark Information Group won two contracts in 2007 and 2008 to handle the EPC registers for homes and businesses on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government. But although Energy Performance Certificates are a legal requirement, so few buildings have complied with the law that the company didn’t have enough work to do.

Mark Prisk, the minister in charge of housing until he was removed in this month’s reshuffle, said the contracts were drawn up by the previous government ‘on the basis that the revenue from the fees paid whenever an Energy Performance Certificate or related document is entered on to the registers would cover the full cost of operating the registers’.

‘It is clearly unacceptable that contracts were drawn up and operated which outsourced a service to the private sector, but left taxpayers with unreasonable commercial risks,’ Prisk said.

But engineering body Cibse says the coalition has had plenty of time to enforce the regulations, which would have avoided this situation.

‘It appears that the shortfall is not the fault of those who negotiated the contract, but a direct consequence of the failure of both this government and its predecessor to make appropriate arrangements to enforce these regulations,’ said Cibse’s technical director Hywel Davies.

The government has been aware for years that there was no central mechanism for tracking what proportion of buildings have an EPC, or for keeping track of penalty notices issued, Davies said, but it has done nothing about it.

Davies said: ‘Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption in buildings. Energy certificates are legal requirements which are intended to help businesses cut their energy bills, something that everyone wants to do. It is time they were taken seriously, and the government took its responsibility under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive seriously.’

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