A number of Scots and UK charities warn today that unless the UK Government and devolved parliaments take urgent action to tackle fuel-poverty then national targets to eradicate fuel poverty will be missed.
Their research also finds that billions of pounds of domestic energy consumer’s money will be transferred each year directly back into HM Treasury because VAT is also being applied on top of levies on electricity bills.
The report notes these revenues could be used to bring all UK housing occupied by low-income households up to the standard of a new home built today. This would result in more energy-efficient homes, more affordable energy bills, carbon reduction, reduced health and care costs and economic growth through additional jobs created and increase money circulating in poorer communities.
The UK Fuel Poverty Monitor – in a new report published today [28 March] by fuel poverty charities National Energy Action (NEA) and Energy Action Scotland (EAS) and supported by Consumer Futures – evaluates the different approaches in addressing fuel poverty across the UK.
It reveals that current policies and practices to tackle fuel poverty are inadequate to mitigate the effect of rising energy costs and the impacts of the economic situation and changes to welfare benefits.
It also reveals that whilst you are more likely to be in fuel poverty if you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you are much more likely to receive support for energy efficiency measures in those countries than in England.
The report is released today to coincide with national Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, which aims to raise awareness of the problem of fuel poverty and the solutions available to keep people warm in their homes. It is coordinated by NEA.
Jenny Saunders, Chief Executive, NEA ,said: “Some 4.5 million UK households are living in fuel poverty – on low incomes and with unaffordable energy bills. The only sustainable way to tackle this problem is to invest in our old and cold housing stock.
“In England only £3.52 Government funding is available per domestic electricity consumer to improve domestic energy efficiency, compared to an average spend of £31.78 in the other nations. Additional resources must be made available to improve the heating and insulation of our poorest households’.
Norman Kerr, Director, Energy Action Scotland, said: “Despite policies and targets derived in Westminster impacting on the whole of the UK there is currently no joined up approach to tackling fuel poverty across the nations.
“We need greater and more transparent coordination across the Westminster and Devolved Governments on all consumer energy issues, and are calling for a formal working group to be established to drive up energy efficiency standards across the UK and report on their actions,”
Adam Scorer, Director of Consumer Futures, said “Energy prices are soaring, and look set to rise further. That leaves millions of households desperate for a government wide strategy to tackle fuel poverty. Instead the combined impact of levies on people’s bills is increasing and public funding of fuel poverty programmes in England has been cut.
“A credible and enduring response to the scourge of fuel poverty has to be a large scale energy efficiency programme that keeps homes warmer, bills lower, carbon saved and some of the costs associated with infrastructure investment safely avoided. If frozen carbon taxes are to stay on consumers bills, then households should feel the benefits.”
Meanwhile, a new energy efficiency standard that is expected to save tenants money on their household energy fuel bills is being announced today (28 March 2014) by Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess.
Burgess will make the announcement during a visit to Linwood, Renfrewshire, where she will meet representatives from a local housing association and view properties which have benefited from energy efficiency investment through Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS).