Policy Impact Hub case study: WWF Energy Efficiency Rate Rebate Scheme
1. What are your organisation’s aims and how does influencing policy help achieve them?
WWF (The Worldwide Fund for Nature) is a global charity that works with governments, businesses and local communities to help meet environmental challenges and promote sustainable use of natural resources, so that people and nature can thrive. WWF engages with governments across the world to encourage positive policies that help achieve these aims.
2. What was the issue? Why was there a need for policy change?
WWF Northern Ireland identified that thousands of homes across Northern Ireland had inadequate loft and cavity wall insulation contributing to both fuel poverty (ie the numbers of people spending a disproportionate amount of their available income on fuel) and to climate change (with a substantial proportion of CO2 emissions coming from home heating). Existing incentive schemes to encourage more and new energy efficient homes were limited to those on certain benefits and not available to all those in fuel poverty.
3. What was the policy solution or approach advocated to policy and decision-makers?
WWF commissioned independent research to investigate how the Northern Ireland rates system (which was undergoing review) could be used to develop new incentives for homes to become more energy efficient, drawing upon the experience of similar schemes in Great Britain, which made use of Council Tax rebates. Through this research, WWF developed specific proposals for both a rates rebate for carrying out loft and cavity wall insulation and a rates holiday for new zero-carbon rated homes
4. How was it advocated?
WWF held a series of meetings with both the Finance Minister and his Departmental officials, to initially present its proposal and, following public consultation in which it was presented as an option, subsequently working with, and providing expertise to officials to develop the scheme.
5. What was the outcome and public benefit provided by the policy change?
Northern Ireland’s first ever energy efficiency and zero-carbon homes rate rebate incentive scheme was introduced into the Northern Ireland rates system. This provided people across Northern Ireland with the opportunity to make estimated savings of around £190 a year on their energy bills, whilst helping to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to tackling climate change.