“A child born today may never see fuel poverty eradicated” says new report

The National Energy Action yesterday issued a report which highlights that UK Fuel Poverty is set to last a lifetime.

The report warns : “that that the current rate of progress in tackling the problem means fuel poverty will not have ended by the time a child born today turns 80. The average life expectancy at birth in the UK is 83 years for girls and 79 for boys, according to the Office for National Statistics.”

As a back drop to this story the Government has pledged to make as many ‘fuel poor’ homes as possible achieve a minimum standard of energy efficiency by 2030, in an attempt to end fuel poverty. But as Elmhurst previously highlighted the numbers of families in this plight is actually rising http://www.elmhurstenergy.co.uk/fuel-poverty-on-the-rise

The report states: “The average fuel poverty gap – between households’ energy bills and what they can afford to pay – has grown in the past decade from £235 in 2003 to £371 in 2014, or £882m at a national level.”

In yesterdays Guardian Newspaper Caroline Lucas (The Green party co-leader) was quoted:  “We know that investing in energy efficiency reduces people’s bills, cuts carbon emissions and keeps people warm, yet the government is slashing support for insulation.

This approach fails people living in fuel poverty who can’t afford to keep their homes warm and is utterly misguided financially. Britain should be leading the way, making energy efficiency and home insulation an overriding infrastructure priority. Let’s not get left behind other countries who are now leaving us in their wake as they drastically reduce their energy demand.”

In response the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The government is committed to tackling fuel poverty. The warm home discount will ensure that more than 2 million households will receive £140 off their energy bills this winter.

The best long-term solution is to improve the energy efficiency of households. We are reforming the requirement on energy companies to install efficiency measures in homes across Great Britain, which will insulate 1m homes by 2020, tackling the root cause of fuel poverty.”

Elmhurst is very saddened that every year, when it starts to get cold, the country starts to identify cold homes and fuel poverty as an issue. We have been clear and consistent that a strategy is required, that is not about what is best for the installation industry, the regulators, the power companies – but puts those families that are affected first! A sticking plaster approach of handouts to all is not an approach that is strategically viable.

The planned changes to what is the effectively the only policy left in England and Wales (for energy efficiency) Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) will find energy efficiency improvements go to the wrong homes. As Elmhurst has commented many times on the proposed changes, we believe this will drive the industry towards maximising carbon and cost savings and not go to the coldest E, F or G rated homes. A small four bed reasonably new home that is considered warm will be insulated rather than an older cold leaky four bed home. This can’t be right. Unfortunately we will end up speaking again about wasted opportunities and money. But by then more people will be trapped in fuel poverty.

We eagerly await the final details of what BEIS announce as the new ECO policy (starting April 2017), we do hope they take heed of our consultation response and this reports observations.

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