New report highlights how to address key failings to eradicate fuel poverty across the UK nations

Joint National Energy Action (NEA) and Energy Action Scotland (EAS) Press Release

 

Following the recent elections in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales two charities have published a joint report highlighting why progress to eradicate fuel poverty across the UK has slowed despite statutory commitments and current policies. The UK Fuel Poverty Monitor, produced annually by NEA and EAS, says huge variations and changes to relevant national and UK wide affordable warmth policies have inevitably hindered progress to eradicate fuel poverty and challenges policy makers to respond to other key recommendations.

Peter Smith, Head of Policy and Research at NEA comments:

“Despite our report warning for many years that a pan UK-wide approach to eradicating fuel poverty is a very distant prospect, in the last five years alone there are now over 500,000 more fuel poor households living in cold homes. We hope the report will help all UK nations to now get the job done and end the unnecessary cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty once and for all”.

Norman Kerr, Director of Energy Action Scotland added:

“For over five years EAS has called on the Scottish Government to commit to a detailed route-map with targets and milestones for eradicating fuel poverty. The new Scottish Government must now act on this key recommendation. The report also calls on the new Government to press on with the introduction of ambitious energy efficiency regulations for private sector homes”.

Pat Austin, Director of NEA Northern Ireland:

“Despite recent drops in wholesale energy prices further actions are needed to address NI’s dependency on home heating oil. Policy makers in NI also must ensure current and future schemes are effectively targeted at those that need the most support to reduce their heating costs”.

Carole Morgan Jones, Director of NEA Cymru:

“Whilst it is clear from the report that tackling fuel poverty needs a more joined up approach between the devolved administrations and UK Government, the newly elected Welsh Government needs to adopt a fresh approach within its devolved areas of responsibility. The Fuel Poverty Coalition Cymru’s Manifesto ‘Ending Wales’ Cold Homes Crisis’ sets out five clear priorities for action for the new Government including an urgent need to address the needless deaths caused by cold homes”.

NEA and EAS have produced the annual UK Fuel Poverty Monitor (UKFPM) report since 2003. The report specifically aims to review fuel poverty policies in the four UK nations. It also provides an opportunity to identify cross-nation learning to inform policy makers and practitioners. The publication of this year’s report reviews progress on the previous recommendations that have been made since 2010 and draws this analysis together within each country and at a UK level.

ENDS

EDITORS NOTES

  1. For further information contact peter.smith@nea.org.uk or call 07595780893.
  2. To read the report click here. The opening section of this year’s report aims to highlight the key differences and similarities in the way fuel poverty is addressed within the four UK countries. This includes a summary table and timeline with the most significant developments in attempts to provide greater levels of affordable warmth across the UK. The report then provides a UK wide summary of progress on key recommendations before investigating each nation in turn. The report then provides some short conclusions and next steps.
  3. NEA is an independent charity which seeks to help low income households across the UK who can’t adequately heat and power their homes. NEA has a network of offices throughout England and also has national offices in Cardiff and Belfast which also work to support deprived communities and low income energy consumers in Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. For more information visit www.nea.org.uk.
  4. EAS campaigns for an end to fuel poverty in Scotland and is the only charity with this sole remit across Scotland. Through its membership network which spans all sectors, it provides a link between policy makers and practitioners to highlight both progress and gaps in the provision of assistance to tackle fuel poverty.   For more information visit www.eas.org.uk/.
  5. Since 2011 there is no longer a common approach to the way fuel poverty is measured across the UK nations. Following Professor Hills’ recommendations the Low Income High Cost (LIHC) indicator definition is now used in England. This states that an individual is considered fuel poor where they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level) and were they to spend that amount; they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line. The low income high cost measure consists of two parts, the number of households that have both low incomes and high fuel costs and the depth of fuel poverty amongst these households.
  6. Prior to the introduction of the Low Income High Costs indicator in England, fuel poverty was measured under the 10 per cent indicator across the whole of the UK. The 10 per cent indicator continues to be used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under this indicator, a household is considered to be fuel poor if they were required to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel to maintain an adequate standard of warmth. Under this definition, in the last five years alone, there are now over 500,000 more fuel poor households and 4.5 million households are living in cold homes across the UK. An adequate standard of warmth is usually defined as 21ºC for the main living area, and 18ºC for other occupied rooms. The impact that this divergence in measurement has across the nations is noted in the recommendations.
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