Last week I attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fuel Poverty. The average household energy bill is now £1,200, more than double the average bill of five years ago and nearly 5 million households in England are now in fuel poverty. In 2000 the government passed legislation to give it a statutory duty to eliminate fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010 and in all households by 2016. The 2010 target will not be met and it is clear that to meet the 2016 target of ending fuel poverty in all households the government will have to launch a radical change in policy.
Interestingly, eliminating fuel poverty and reducing harmful carbon emissions go hand in hand as the most effective way to bring households out of fuel poverty is to help them efficiently insulate their homes. If all homes were brought up to a minimum standard of energy efficiency (Energy Performance Certificate band B), 83% would be removed from fuel poverty. The End Fuel Poverty charter calls for a number of solutions but the most pressing is for a fully costed plan to be produced this year to spell out exactly how the government will meet its target of removing all households from fuel poverty and to set up a national programme to improve all households to a minimum standard of energy efficiency, starting with those who are currently the most vulnerable.