The government’s latest proposals to tackle the UK’s catastrophic fuel poverty problem have been met with critics accusing the coalition of “setting meaningless targets” and ignoring the plight of pensioners.
Under the plans, future governments will be held legally responsible for fighting fuel poverty by making the coldest, leakiest homes in England more energy efficient.
The term “fuel poverty” describes households on low incomes with high energy costs, often caused by poorly insulated homes. The government has an energy rating system for properties with the top-rated being most energy efficient and consequently having much lower fuel bills.
In future there will be a legal obligation for as many fuel-poor homes as “reasonably” practicable to be raised to Energy Performance Band C rating by 2030. Currently only one in 20 of England’s 2.3 million fuel-poor homes reach the Band C standard, the government said.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “These proposals mark a radical shift away from old policies of tinkering at the edges without tackling the root causes of fuel poverty – homes that need too much energy and leak too much heat to be able to keep warm.”
He promised the Government would target the worst properties first, where people in the most extreme cases pay £1,500 more than they need to for their home energy.
The plans are estimated to save the poorest households £1bn a year on their fuel bills. But fuel poverty campaigners united in criticising the delays in helping those in fuel poverty.
OFTEC also has actively voiced its concerns about the government only allowing rural households using heating oil to be eligible for the Renewable Heating Incentive, arguing that the considerable upfront investment required by homeowners to install renewable technologies makes the scheme fit for only the wealthy few.
“The government is failing to introduce energy efficiency measures for the fuel-poor households using oil. Typically these are more at risk of fuel poverty because their homes tend to be older, poorly insulated and therefore cost more to heat. It is quite wrong for the government to expect everyone on oil to be able to access the RHI and thus exclude them from this Green Deal subsidy,” adds Jeremy.
A Consumer Focus report estimates that 29% of rural homes in England and 47% in Wales are in fuel poverty.
OFTEC has been lobbying the government to reintroduce a boiler scrappage scheme to help rural households who either can’t afford to install renewable heating or where the property means renewable heat simply is not viable.