Tackling fuel poverty

Under proposals published by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), future governments will be required by law to help fight fuel poverty by making the coldest, leakiest homes in England more energy efficient.

Since 2010 the number of households in fuel poverty has fallen each year as a result of government energy efficiency schemes and the Warm Home Discount. However, it is thought that the problem could rise again unless action is taken to tackle it. There are 2.3 million fuel poor homes in England.

Under the proposals there will be a legal obligation for as many fuel poor homes as reasonably practicable to be raised to a Band C energy efficiency rating by 2030. The proposals also include improving as many fuel poor homes as reasonably practicable to Band E by 2020 and Band D by 2025.

Currently only 5% of England’s 2.3 million fuel poor homes reach the Band C standard. Today, a typical Band C home faces energy bills that can be £1,000 lower than a Band F or G rated home, whilst a typical Band D home faces energy bills that can be around £900 lower.

Alongside these proposals, the consultation “Cutting the Cost of Keeping Warm” prioritises help for low-income households who are not connected to the gas grid and those whose health can suffer from living in the cold.

The government will also encourage and learn from local “insulation on prescription” trials for those suffering health problems caused by living in cold, draughty homes which cost too much to heat.  These have seen patients receive home improvements worth as much as £5,000 each.

One in ten privately rented homes have the lowest energy efficiency rating, with nearly 20% of these homes being in fuel poverty – almost double the national average. The government has published proposals to give domestic tenants the right to request their landlords carry out energy efficiency improvements from 2016.

From 2018, the least energy efficient rental properties would not be allowed to be let until they are improved to an Energy Performance Certificate rating of Band E. Any energy efficiency improvements must be financeable without any compulsory upfront cost to the landlord.

Consultation on the proposals for a new fuel poverty strategy for England will be open until Friday 7th October.