The United Kingdom continues to have some of the least energy efficient properties in Europe. Critically, and despite sustained effort, the poorest households continue to be disproportionally housed in the coldest dwellings, meaning millions of the poorest consumers’ energy continues to get wasted through leaky roofs and walls and through use of inefficient heating systems. It is a national scandal that poor housing standards continue to impair the physical and psychological health of millions of UK households.
The consequence is fuel poverty, resulting in misery, ill health and premature death. Winter death rates are markedly higher in the United Kingdom than in other countries with colder climates.
All Party Parliamentary Fuel Poverty & Energy Efficiency Group
First established in 1995 to raise awareness of fuel poverty and the policies needed to eradicate it, the Parliamentary group seeks to stimulate debate about the need for long term investment in energy efficiency improvements and expand support payments and social tariffs that make energy costs affordable for those most vulnerable. The group investigates the potential contributions that can be made by government, local authorities, landlords, the voluntary sector, and service providers towards enabling those on low-incomes to keep warm at a price they can afford.
Radically improving the fabric and heating of our homes represents the most cost-effective long-term solution for tackling high energy bills and fuel poverty. Measured by Energy Performance Certificates, with ‘A’ representing very high performance and ‘G’ very poor, ‘B’ is the minimum standard for a home built today. FPEEG would like to see a national standard of EPC ‘B’ by 2030 for all homes occupied by low-income households, and an interim target of EPC ‘D’ by 2020. Achieving the near-term target would reduce fuel poverty by 45% as the majority of vulnerable households live in homes rated E, F or G.
A required infrastructure investment of c. £1bn pa is needed to make necessary improvements to the British housing stock, meet the interim EPC D target by the end of 2020, provide an average investment per household of £4,600, and help over 1.34m households. The EPC B target by the end of 2030 would from then cost £4bn pa, providing an average of £7,400 invested, with 5.5m households helped. The programme would reduce fuel poverty from 2.4m households to 0.9m by 2030 and the aggregate ‘fuel poverty gap’ (severity of fuel poverty) by over a third – from £1.05bn to £0.3bn, while also resulting in the installation of modern central heating boilers, heat pumps, cavity wall, solid wall and loft insulation and double glazing for those that need it most.
FPEEG MPs are working with the Government and the Opposition energy team in order to illustrate the benefits that setting these ambitious targets would have.
Energy prices have doubled since 2005 with the average dual fuel bill now being around £1,292. Moderate reductions in 2013, following the roll back levies which are imposed regressively on energy bills were welcomed by FPEEG but in the short to medium term prices are likely to rise.
The Electricity Market Reforms (EMR) set out the Government’s commitment to transform the UK’s electricity system to ensure that our future electricity supply is secure, low carbon and affordable. In the short to medium term, the proposals will impact on the poorest households. FPEEG is campaigning for the Government to fully appreciate the scale of these impacts and urge policy makers to pursue these policies in a progressive manner and introduce suitably ambitious mitigating policies.
The Winter Fuel Payment has been a great success in assisting millions of older households with fuel costs at a time of year when they are most vulnerable.
The Winter Fuel Payment has been criticised on the grounds that the only qualification for receipt is age and, consequently, many affluent older people benefited from a payment that they did not need. Whatever the merits of arguments for retaining the Winter Fuel payment as a universal benefit for all older households or for targeting payment on poor pensioners it is clear that fuel poverty is not restricted to older households. Those who live with young children, have chronic ill health or a disability, and/or suffer severe economic disadvantage also need support to ensure their well-being and manageable energy costs over the winter period.
FPEEG is campaigning to ensure that instruments such as the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment are retained. We also call on Government to increase support for all groups at risk of fuel poverty.
The Work of the Group
Our coalition of MPs, Peers and external organisations exist to put an end to the misery of cold homes and unmanageable fuel costs; to give people more money to spend on other goods and services that invest in local economies; to reduce expenditure on housing maintenance making homes habitable and easier to let; to achieve the multiple benefits of energy efficiency through both cutting the cost of treating cold-related illnesses and creating many thousands of new jobs spread across the UK. What other public spending programme can match this potential?
If you would like to become a supporting member of the group, please complete an application form here.
To go to the FPEEG website click here.
Published on 31-03-2017