Fuel Poverty: What is already being done?
Since 2012, the Government has cut funding for energy efficiency. Total funding has been cut by over 50% and the number of energy efficiency measures, which are being installed in UK homes has fallen by 90%.
October 2017 saw the publication of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy (CGS). The strategy has been criticized for missing the UK’s 5thcarbon budget (a 57% reduction against 1990 levels by 2030) by 10%. One of the main reasons for this short fall is a lack of policy and finance to increase energy efficiency.
The Clean Growth Strategy did reiterate a commitment to upgrade all fuel poor homes to Energy Performance Certificate C by 2030, with all households in the UK to reach this standard by 2035. Since 2013 the only UK Government mechanism for funding home energy efficiency has been the Energy Company Obligation* (ECO) which now provides only £640 million per year in funding. However the EEIGestimates that to meet these Government targets a total fund of £1.7 billion per year is needed, amounting to an extra £1 billion per year. The CGS has confirmed the continuation of ECO until 2028 but only at the current level of funding.
*Energy Company Obligation (ECO): an energy efficiency scheme to help reduce emissions and tackle fuel poverty. The latest changes to the scheme happened in 2017. These changes include the Affordable Warmth Group being increased to around 4.7m rather than 4m households, hoped to include more households who are in fuel poverty, and those on lower incomes struggling to meet heating and other bills. The changes aim to focus the scheme more on tackling fuel poverty. While this focus is welcome, the funding gap remains and a new and improved energy efficiency delivery programme is needed.
Fuel Poverty in the Rented Sector:
There are about 680,000 rented properties in England with the worst energy efficiency ratings of F and G. Over forty per cent of households in these worst insulated rented homes live in fuel poverty (DECC, 2010).
From the 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) (ResidentsLandlord Association). The lowest efficiency rating is G, so therefore E is still incredibly low efficiency. The average fuel poor home in the UK has an E rating.
Consumer Focus estimates that by setting the minimum standard even higher at Energy Efficiency Band D, 300,000 households would be able to afford to keep their rented homes warm that cannot today.