The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that thousands of fuel-poor families living in social housing will face steeper electricity bills as a result of cuts to the feed-in tariff.

The LGA has indicated that the majority of councils with solar schemes in the pipeline have had to abandon plans to fit council-owned properties with solar. Council projects have reportedly been cancelled because of the 50 percent cut to the feed-in tariff rate being rushed through nearly four months early by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Councillor David Parsons, Chairman of the LGA's Environment Board, said: “Local councils and local people are paying the price for this Government department's mistakes.

“People trust and rely upon their local council for help. But broken promises of funding from DECC have left local authorities unable to afford to meet the promises they made to tenants who will be left hundreds of pounds worse off as a result.”

The LGA stated that many councils have been forced to cancel contracts and break promises to thousands of tenants after only being given a six-week period of notice by DECC

It is estimated that installing solar panels on social housing would have saved approximately £190 a year off the fuel bill of an average household. According to a recent survey, 2,700 people will die as a direct result of fuel poverty this winter, many of which currently live in social housing.

Parsons explained: “This is going to have a major impact on families who could have benefitted from cheaper energy. We have also seen that it is likely to lead to the loss of thousands of jobs as energy firms find contracts falling by the wayside.”

During the recent EAC committee inquiry the LGA submitted written evidence criticising the handling of the proposed feed-in tariff and urging the Government to reconsider plans for community projects. The LGA suggested that the pace of the feed-in tariff change has put councils at financial risk, “in the order of millions.”

The written evidence submitted by the LGA states that the association signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DECC. The MoU was intended to develop a partnership between central and local government on tackling climate change and included a commitment from DECC to consider the impact to councils of any changes in policy. The LGA received no materials relating to a consideration of the impact on councils from the proposed changes to the solar feed-in tariffs.

The LGA are urging DECC to enable a higher feed-in tariff to be available for schemes that can demonstrate a community benefit, including council-led schemes and to remove the additional reduction that applies for the owner of multiple systems for community based schemes.

It appears that the calls of the LGA may not have fallen on deaf ears, as the Energy Minister, Greg Barker, in response to the ‘Save our Solar’ campaign, explained that he is “considering whether more could be done to support genuine community projects in the feed-in tariff scheme.”

Parsons summed up the feeling amongst LGA’s membership by stating: “Councils were spearheading the rollout of tens of thousands of solar panels on public buildings and the homes of those who could not afford to do it themselves.

“By moving the goalposts at the last minute, Government has risked undermining confidence in its green agenda.”