Funding issue behind shaky future for Swindon firm

1:30pm Wednesday 16th January 2013

By Matthew Edwards

THE insulation industry is the latest sector to be hit by the economic crisis after grant funding was cut.

It is believed that around 100 jobs could be lost at Swindon firm Warm-Space, based in Rushy Platt, because funding was withdrawn prematurely.

The Insulation Industry Forum, representing more than 70 per cent of the UK’s £700m insulation industry, has said that around 300 jobs are expected to be lost in the south west region.

Warm-Space has apologised to its customers in a letter online for the inconvenience caused, but has blamed it on delays to the Green Deal, which is a government initiative to reduce carbon emissions.

Work by the insulation industry is partially or fully paid for by grants instigated by the Government. The money for these grants comes from the energy companies British Gas, E-on, Scottish Power and the like. It is provided against targets set by the Government for reducing carbon emissions.

The Government was aiming to launch a new flagship policy called the Green Deal in January, but due to delays in introducing this policy companies like Warm-Space looked to energy providers such as British Gas to ensure it had funding available for orders.

An online statement from the company to its customers said: “We were assured we had funding until June this year. We even gave commitments on the amount of carbon saving we could deliver. It meant we could continue providing insulation to homes at the same level as we had been during 2012.

“On Thursday of last week all that funding was withdrawn with immediate effect. Apparently, British Gas was effectively forced to withdraw the funding by Ofgem, the industry regulator.

“The National Insulation Association is currently in discussions with the energy companies to try and find an immediate solution.

“We would like to keep customers orders on our books and keep you in touch with developments. We would like to insulate your property as much as we are sure you would like it insulated.

“Finally, we would like to apologise most sincerely for the inconvenience (and expense) this has caused and assure you we are doing our utmost to find a solution.”

Employees were reluctant to speak about the situation as they left work last night but some said that they were not expected to go back to work for the rest of the week and it was a big blow.

MP for Swindon south, Robert Buckland, said that he was unaware of the job losses but would offer his support to any employees who needed it.

He said: “I know the firm well and have been out there a few times to see the work they have been doing.

“Obviously it is more bad news and my thoughts are with the individuals and their families. I will try and provide any support that I can in my role as an MP.”

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