Campaigners have called on the government to fully honour election commitments to incentivise lower cost, energy efficient heat as latest England fuel poverty statistics are released

A fuel poverty campaign group is calling on the government to drastically scale up measures to improve the energy efficiency of households as the country braces for surging heating costs.

The National Energy Action (NEA) group has warned that the scheduled rise in the energy price cap from April will see a significant increase in the cost of heating homes.

These costs must be met with expanded investment and support for insulating homes to help curb heating demand, the NEA has argued.

The calls have been made following the publication this week of the government’s latest fuel poverty statistics for England.  These latest figures show the number of fuel poor households in 2020. Fuel poor households are defined under the statistics as individuals living in properties with an EPC rating of D or below that also sit below the official poverty line once they have paid for their annual heating bills.

Peter Smith, policy and advocacy director at the NEA, that the recent statistics did not count the impact of higher energy costs on the price of heating set to be introduced this year . These costs could potentially see 6.5 million households being classed as living in fuel poverty from later this year.

He said, “Despite a long lag in the government data for England; these new statistics do shine a light on a hugely alarming lack of progress to meet the UK government’s statutory fuel poverty commitments. By 2030 there should be no fuel poor households living in energy inefficient homes. But, based on current progress, instead of eight years, it will take over 60 years for that to happen.”

“The government also had a clear goal to improve the least efficient homes by 2020, but over 180,000 of the poorest households in England are languishing in the most expensive to heat homes.”

The NEA is critical about the scale of current government incentives for improving the energy efficiency of homes amidst wider calls from some industry bodies, campaigners and parliamentary watchdogs for a national focus on funding retrofit work to curb overall demand for heat.

These efficiency improvements are also expected to better support the introduction of lower carbon heating systems such as heat pumps.

The SEA noted that 2019 commitments made by the Conservative Party in its General Election manifesto f to invest £9.2bn in energy efficiency improvements for households and public buildings was still not being fully met.

These pledges include the £2.5bn Home Upgrade Grant Scheme (HUG) that is intended to target low-income households with poor energy efficiency. Less than half of the funding pledged in the government’s manifesto has actually been committed, according to the SEA.

The campaign group said it did welcome a consultation last year to expand incentives such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), Warm Home Discount (WHD) and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). However, there proposals have faced long delays in being implemented at a time when energy costs are becoming a significant issue for households, the SEA stated.

Peter Smith said that the predicted increase in average energy bills this year are expected to adversely impact individuals in the least efficient homes across England should they wish to heat homes “to a healthy or reasonable level.”

He said, “The energy crisis should be a wake-up call to do far more to protect these households, but key programmes are missing in action.”

“Fully honouring the manifesto commitments and delivering on their previous proposals would immediately help us get back on track. These statistics highlight why we haven’t got any time to waste.”


Source link