Fuel poverty call for better housing & less energy waste
Combating fuel poverty requires a renewed and ambitious strategy centred on improving the housing of those at risk and cutting energy waste says the final report of a Government-backed review.
The report, headed by Professor John Hills of the London School of Economics, highlights the need for all Government departments to be involved in finding solutions to the forecast that almost nine million people will be living in fuel poverty by 2016. Professor Hills also says the issue is definitely not just a matter for DECC.
While popular headline points from the report centre on a growing ‘fuel poverty gap’ in which fuel-poor households face paying nearly £600-a-year more than better-off households, business leaders will be more focused on finding solutions.
The timing of this report, a few days before the Budget, places fuel poverty requirements in the front line of the balancing act which the chancellor faces between easing energy costs for vulnerable consumers and stimulating development for energy providers, large and small.
Professor Hills also makes it clear that no single aspect of energy policy can ever be treated in isolation. “There is no doubt that fuel poverty is a serious national problem,” he said, “increasing hardship, contributing to winter deaths and other health problems, and blocking policies to combat climate change.”
The Government response, given by energy secretary Ed Davey, paid tribute to the report team’s work in delivering ‘unparalleled insight into this serious issue’.
“The evidence is overwhelming that improving the way we measure fuel poverty is integral to delivering the right policy outcomes,” said the minister. “Without the right measure it will not be possible to focus available resources in the most effective way.
“I therefore commit myself and the Government to the adoption of a revised approach to measuring fuel poverty by the end of the year. In preparation for this I will be working closely with my colleagues across Government.
“I am also very keen to hear the views of stakeholders on the final judgement that Professor John Hills has reached. I will therefore publish in the summer a consultation on the new approach I propose to take.”
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