Fuel poverty hits poor homes hard
Published on 28 March 2014 02:30 PM
Ministers are failing to tackle the problem of 4.5 million households living in fuel poverty, according to a report.
The UK Fuel Poverty Monitor report, produced by the charities National Energy Action (NEA) and Energy Action Scotland (EAS), said that VAT from energy bills could go towards bringing all UK housing occupied by low-income households to the standard of a new home.
The report said that those in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland were more likely to live in fuel poverty, even though they are also more likely to receive support for energy efficiency measures.
In England, the average investment in energy efficiency programmes for low income households was just £3.52 per electricity customer, compared with £36.48 in Scotland, £31.31 in Wales and £27.55 in Northern Ireland.
The report said that people who are technically eligible for assistance were not receiving support because the home improvements that were needed were too costly or they could not afford the contribution. The report added that the disparity between England and the rest of the UK was a result of the discretion given to energy companies to meet their efficiency targets.
The NEA said that ministers should make sure that schemes to help the poorest households are in place.
Fuel Poverty Awareness day
The UK Fuel Poverty Monitor report has been released to coincide with Fuel Poverty Awareness day, which aims to highlight the plight of those stuck in fuel poverty and the support available to help people warm their homes.
'Around 4.5 million UK households are living in fuel poverty - on low incomes and with unaffordable energy bills,' said Jenny Saunders, NEA chief executive.
'The only sustainable way to tackle this problem is to invest in our old and cold housing stock.
'In England, only £3.52 in 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.'
Consumer Futures director Adam Scorer 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.'
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: 'The Government is doing everything within its power to help hard-pressed families keep their energy bills down.'
Copyright Press Association 2014