National Energy Action (NEA) and Energy Action Scotland (EAS) – national charities working to end fuel poverty and the illness caused by cold homes across the UK – have published a joint report in the UK parliament which highlighs the need for policy makers to adequately resource initiatives that make homes warmer and healthier and in turn encourage economic growth.
The UK Fuel Poverty Monitor was funded by Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice.
The report states that eliminating fuel poverty across the United Kingdom remains achievable and doing so will provide wider social, health, environmental and economic benefits.
The report highlights that over the term of the UK Parliament (2015-2020) domestic energy consumers will contribute over £14 billion to the Treasury (£11.82bn in England, £1.33bn in Scotland, £690m in Wales and £190m in Northern Ireland) through VAT and revenue generated from carbon taxes.
With the UK Treasury expected to receive this significant windfall, the report concludes that the new UK Government must support the use of these funds (or alternative public infrastructure funds) to adequately resource initiatives that make homes warmer and healthier and in turn encourage economic growth.
However, ending fuel poverty and realising the associated benefits will only happen if the scale of investment in domestic energy efficiency is increased nationally in Scotland and rUK.
Given the UK Treasury expects to receive a significant windfall from domestic energy consumers in all four nations, the report concludes that the new UK Government must support the use of these revenues or public infrastructure funds to adequately resource initiatives across the UK that make homes warmer and healthier and in turn encourage economic growth.
“However there are growing differences in delivery across nations and changes to policies by the UK Government have undermined national delivery plans and national targets to eradicate fuel poverty.
“Many consumers and even frontline support staff are also not clear about who to contact for advice and support needs. This is despite the potential for locally delivered projects to often offer a greater level of assistance and more services”.
Jenny Saunders OBE, Chief Executive, National Energy Action, stated: “The report highlights widespread recognition that significant energy efficiency interventions and bespoke energy advice can help increase warmth, comfort and make fuel bills affordable for vulnerable households.
“Energy efficiency is also regarded as a highly cost effective way of reducing carbon emissions and gas imports. However, across the nations, investment in energy efficiency is not sufficient or in danger of drying up entirely.
“This could lead to acute financial costs to national health services unless our recommendations are acted upon urgently”.
Margaret Lynch, Chief Executive, Citizens Advice Scotland, added: “Fuel poverty now affects a shocking 39% of households in Scotland.
“For many remote and rural communities, the figure is even higher – with some estimates putting fuel poverty in the Western Isles at 71%.
“That’s shameful for a civilised nation in the 21st century. We desperately need to see concerted action from government, regulators and suppliers to tackle the scourge of fuel poverty and make sure that no one has to live in cold damp homes.”