Energy companies unite in call to halt fuel poverty
Over 100 organisations, including charities and energy experts, call on the government to do more to help the fuel poor.
The Energy Bill Revolution, an alliance which includes charities such as Age UK, End Fuel Poverty, Shelter, several of the UK’s largest energy suppliers and uSwitch, has written an open letter to the Prime Minister, arguing that not enough has been done to control gas and electricity bills.
The letter repeats earlier calls for the government to use the money raised from Carbon Tax to help insulate homes, which will subsequently stem the numbers who fall ill because of cold homes, which is estimated to cost the NHS over £1 billion a year.
Dear Prime Minister
The letter (below) urges the government to use its Carbon Tax (the tax on fossil fuels) to decrease the UK’s energy usage:
Plummeting temperatures have made the growing cost of energy an even more pressing concern. Snow and ice covered the UK over the weekend disrupting travel and closing thousands of schools. Weather Channel forecaster Leon Brown warned that the cold conditions could last a further week : “A two-week period such as this, with sub-zero nights and days close to freezing, is a one in ten-year occurrence. “We could see -15C to -20C lows later in the week in the Midlands, mid-Wales and Scottish Highlands.” Cold weather can add around £7 a week to energy bills, something which Thomas Lyons, energy exert at uSwitch warns could be dangerous for homes already struggling to stay warm:
“If freezing weather sets in for a month, it’s perfectly feasible for households to see an extra £30 added onto their next energy bill and this will be a real struggle for some,” he said, adding:
“The worry is that many households will try to make ends meet by cutting back on their heating.
Cutting back on energy bills or ‘energy rationing’ is particularly dangerous for vulnerable customers, especially the elderly and children. A recent survey by the Energy Bill Revolution alliance found that one in four households face a ‘heating or eating’ dilemma, when energy customers have to choose between budgeting for food or heating costs. Energy Bill Revolution argue that retrospective insulation on homes that would be likely to struggle with heating costs, will enable the homeowners to keep energy bills lower as well as establish an economic boost with the creation of extra jobs. According to the campaign, 6 million households suffer from fuel poverty, or where over 10 per cent of their income is spent on heating costs.
Not doing enough
The calls comes just one week before the government’s flagship ‘Green Deal‘ scheme is launched. The Green Deal is an initiative to allow customers to have their homes assessed to see where energy efficiency measures can be reduced. Homeowners can then take pay for the energy-saving measures, such as insulation or new boilers, and pay the cost back on their energy bills. However, they will never have to pay more on their energy bills than the saving they will make on their energy bills. Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, told The Times newspaper that the struggle to heat homes in the UK had reached crisis levels: “The suffering caused by high energy bills is turning into a national crisis. The Government can do far more. There is enough carbon revenue to fund an insulation programme which is five times bigger . It could end fuel poverty and ensure all homes are super-insulated.” A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: “We have schemes in place to improve energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty, including subsidies for the poorest paid for by suppliers, and the Green Deal, up and running at the end of this month, will help millions to improve their homes so they are better insulated, with extra help for those who need it most.”