Ahead of tomorrow’s Autumn Budget Statement by the UK Chancellor, the Government has been warned not to weaken its commitment to ‘eliminate’ fuel poverty, as it prepares to make changes to ‘green levies’ that fund energy efficiency improvements for the poorest bill payers and redefines the amount of people who can be counted as ‘fuel-poor’ – reducing the number of households from 3.2 million to 2.4 million ‘overnight’.
MP Joan Walley, Chairman of the Westminster parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, said: “The Government is shifting the goal-posts on fuel poverty so that official statistics record far fewer households as fuel-poor.
“The changes to the fuel poverty definition and target, in part being made through amendments to the Energy Bill, should be stopped unless the Government is prepared to make a public commitment to end fuel poverty altogether.
“A short-term bid to cut bills must not throw energy and climate change policy off-course. In the longer term green levies could actually keep bills down if they drive energy efficiency improvements that cut the cost of heating our homes. Insulating homes and supporting green technologies is vital to help the fuel poor and cut the emissions causing climate change.”
The Environmental Audit Committee of MPs is also urging the Government to use the Autumn Statement as an opportunity to provide a clear and comprehensive analysis of energy subsidies in the UK.
“This would bring much needed transparency and provide a basis for an overdue debate on the rationale for energy subsidies in the UK.” said Walley. “To reinforce the need to cut the emissions causing climate change, the MPs call on the Government to reduce the proportion of overall energy subsidies that support fossil fuels.
“At the G20 summit recently, the UK Government committed itself to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The Government must set a target to reduce subsidies to harmful fossil fuels.”