The UK’s leading think-tank, Policy Exchange, has recently published the Warmer Homes Report, the purpose of which is to encourage the next government to overhaul the current domestic energy policies and help combat the estimated 2.3 million households that are currently in fuel poverty.
Policy Exchange is one of several organisations who have recently called for parliamentary ministers to make energy efficiency a National Infrastructure Priority, which would put it on equal footing with such things as the High Speed 2 rail project and aviation expansion. Policy Exchange believes that some of the £100 billion budget for infrastructure should be used for energy efficiency schemes to assist in the fuel poverty battle.
The Warmer Homes Report shows a character profile of the 2.3 households in fuel poverty and reveals some incredibly interesting details:
- 10% of all households in the UK are in fuel poverty.
- 19% of those in private rented accommodation are in fuel poverty.
- Almost 50% of the 2.3 million in fuel poverty are in work.
- Households living in the least energy efficient homes would need to spend £1700 extra a year to heat their home to a comfortable level (18-20°C)
- Between 2003-2013, consumer gas prices rose by 128%, which has greatly contributed to fuel poverty.
- Compared to other European countries, the UK’s housing stock is very inefficient.
The report has shown that there is a huge funding gap between what is needed for the government to hit their 2030 fuel poverty target and what they are actually spending. The report estimates there is a yearly shortfall of around £700 million and has set out several ways this gap can be closed:
- Currently, only 33% of fuel poverty funding actually benefits those in fuel poverty. The Report recommends that the Energy Company Obligation (that legally obliges energy companies to deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic energy users) to be revised to focus more on households in fuel poverty. Policy Exchange believe this could raise £375 million a year to be allocated to the fuel poor.
- The Winter Fuel Payment should be an opt-in scheme, because only 10% of the recipients are actually in fuel poverty. Left-over money, which the Report claims could amount to as much as £400 million, should be allocated to schemes assisting the those in fuel poverty.
It is hoped that the Warmer Homes Report will help to show the next government that fuel poverty is a very severe problem, affecting a broad range of society, not just the elderly and the vulnerable. The whole heating industry hopes the government will take these recommendations seriously and pledges to make serious inroads into this increasing issue.
Article by Benjamin Clarke