Resources 'must be refocused to target fuel poverty'

Published:  26 September, 2016

A government Advisory Committee on fuel poverty says policies and resources must be refocussed to meet England's fuel poverty goals.

After official fuel poverty figures rose to 2.38 million last month, The Committee on Fuel Poverty has produced a list of recommendations that it believes will be needed to achieve the government's 2020, 2025 and 2030 fuel poverty targets.

The committee has stressed the need for better targeting of future ECO scheme assistance to those in fuel poverty, and called for new regulations to require private landlords to upgrade properties to Band E up to a spending cap of £5,000 per property, with funding then available for any additional works.

It said there was a strong case for strengthened enforcement action where households are identified as at risk from cold homes, and that fuel-poor homes should receive assistance with energy bills while awaiting the installation of energy efficient measures.

Speaking for the Committee, Jenny Saunders said: "The Committee has reached initial positions on success criteria for the Government's fuel poverty strategy for England. While significant resources appear to be available to meet the 2030 target to substantially improve the energy efficiency of low-income households and provide income supplements to pay fuel bills, the reality is that these resources are currently poorly targeted at those in fuel poverty.

"We acknowledge that the government has made a start to address this issue, but it needs to do more through data sharing to identify people in fuel poverty. It also needs to ensure the recommendations of the Competition and Market Authority's remedies are implemented so that the energy market works for all consumers, particularly those who are more vulnerable, and lever additional finance particularly in the private-rented sector.

"The Committee is presenting its recommendations to around 250 fuel poverty practitioners from across the country in Manchester. We are working with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and other Government departments to help steer policy changes needed to maximise resources cost effectively to increase the energy efficiency standards of households in fuel poverty and thereby reduce the cost of energy bills and prevent the health and other impacts of living in cold homes."

The Committee's full report can be downloaded from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cfp-report-september-2016.