Influential new govt body launches first report on fuel poverty

The Committee on Fuel Poverty, a new government advisory group established earlier this year to help reduce fuel poverty, has published its first report. In it the Committee identifies six key outcomes that need to be reached in order to achieve the government's fuel poverty reduction targets, and makes a total of fifteen initial recommendations as to what actions need to be taken over the coming years.

The Committee, which brings together a small group of academic experts and industry figures, was set up at the beginning of 2016 with the specific remit of advising the government on implementing the 2015 strategy "Cutting the Costs of Keeping Warm". This included ambitions to increase the energy-efficiency of as many fuel-poor houses as possible. The Committee will monitor and report on progress towards these targets, report on the impact of government policies on reducing fuel poverty, and work with the Committee on Climate Change to ensure that work to reduce carbon emissions and to reduce fuel poverty work together.

The first report of the Committee has now been published and acts as a statement of the Committee's initial positions. It identifies that actions to reach the government's stated policy aims come under six broad themes:

  • sufficient funding from Government and energy suppliers, properly targetted
  • additional finance from other sources for household energy-saving measures
  • stakeholders including local authorites and health agencies to recognise the impact of fuel poverty and to be engaged in work to reduce it
  • regulatory changes that have positive outcomes for those in fuel poverty
  • functioning of the energy market to assist those in fuel poverty
  • availability of information and advice to housholds in fuel poverty and agencies who work with them

In particular, the report identifies that to meet the government's target of bringing fuel-poor homes up to energy-efficiency rating E by 2020 will cost £1.9billion; to reach the target of bringing such homes up to a D rating by 2025 will cost an additional £5.6bn; and to meet the eventual target of such houses reaching a C rating by 2030 will cost an extra £12.3bn. On top of this, funding will need to be found to support those households in fuel poverty to meet their heating bills in the meantime. The Committee say that while existing funding levels may be sufficient to meet these targets, that will only happen if such funding is targetted much more effectively.

The Committee's fifteen recommendations for action include better data sharing to identify specific households suffering from fuel poverty; implementing regulations requiring private landlords to invest in energy efficiency measures; making the replacement of inefficient housing stock a key element of the government's devolution agenda; and focusing information around switching energy supplier at the most fuel-poor households.

You can download the full report by visiting the Government website. We will keep our eyes peeled for future actions and reports by the committee and report on them further.