The government has committed to “protecting vulnerable households in England” as part of its plans to ameliorate fuel poverty.
The majority of the funding detailed in the strategy has already been announced, such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, though also outlined is a £150m investment in the Home Upgrade Grant and an expansion of the Energy Company Obligation – the requirement for larger domestic energy suppliers to install energy efficiency measures in the homes of people who are low income and vulnerable or fuel poor.
The strategy also reaffirms the government’s commitment to £2bn of Green Homes Grant funding, as well as outlines an extension to the Warm Home Discount – a requirement for energy companies to provide a £140 rebate on the energy bill of low income pensioners and other low income households with high energy bills.
Further, the strategy includes a £10bn investment in energy efficiency through regulatory obligations in the private rented sector.
A new way of measuring
Aside from additional funding announcements, the new strategy, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), also sets out a “more meaningful” measure of fuel poverty.
Following feedback from a public consultation in 2019, the government said its aim is to “better track” progress toward the statutory fuel poverty target whilst still reflecting the three key drivers of fuel poverty (low income, energy efficiency, and prices).
The strategy outlines how the updated measure – Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) – will determine whether a household is fuel poor.
A household will be classed as fuel poor if it:
- Has a residual income below the poverty line (after accounting for required fuel costs)
- Lives in a home that has an energy efficiency rating below Band C
The government has also said there is also scope for reviewing the Housing Health and Safety Rating System so that it aligns with this new energy strategy.
‘Cleaner energy consumption’
Writing in the foreword, Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, said: “This strategy sets out our plan to ensure everyone can afford the energy required to keep their lights and heating on, especially during the winter.
“Coronavirus has resulted in many consumers seeing reduced income and therefore an increased number of households may now be struggling with their energy bills, especially as it gets colder.”
He added: “This plan will contribute to reduced carbon emissions, through improved energy efficiency and supporting households in the move towards cleaner energy consumption, including heating.”
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “I welcome today’s Fuel Poverty Strategy, and share its ambitions to ensure everyone can afford to power their home. If the Government wants to build back greener, however, it must go further.
“It should build on the principles set out today, linking energy efficiency directly to health, wellbeing, and job creation, and commit to a National Retrofit Strategy in order to deliver a plan to reduce energy demand and carbon emissions from every home across the UK.”
Berry concluded: “While the new funding announced for the Home Upgrade Grant in this strategy is welcome in starting to build a pipeline of energy efficiency work for installers, it is not enough.
“The lack of a clear long-term plan on energy efficiency is holding back builders like my members from investing in the skills they will need to deliver these works.”
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