As millions of families across the country struggle to heat their homes, the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action (NEA), is campaigning to bring the plight of those struggling to the nation’s attention with today’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.
Established in 2012, the annual scheme aims to raise awareness of the fuel poverty experienced by families up and down the country, as well as to publicise available solutions to the problem. According to a report released today by the NEA and Energy Action Scotland (EAS) to coincide with the awareness event, over 4.5 million homes in Britain are living in fuel poverty, with low incomes, soaring energy prices and poor insulation pushing a growing number of families, pensioners and vulnerable people into the situation each year.
The charities also released shocking figures that show a huge disparity in the amount of money spent improving energy efficiency for low income homes in the UK, with those living in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales more likely to fall into fuel poverty, but also more likely to receive support. The report stated that energy efficiency programmes invest an average of just £3.52 per electricity customer in England, compared to an average of £27.55 in Northern Ireland, £31.31 in Wales and £36.48 in Scotland.
Government Cuts Leave 400,000 Homes in the Cold
Previous government plans to eradicate fuel poverty in the UK by 2016 and in Wales by 2018 have been overshadowed by changes announced in December to the Energy Company Obligation regulations, which are expected to leave around 400,000 poorly insulated homes without help to reduce their energy bills. As such, the NEA and EAS are calling for a government-wide plan to combat fuel poverty across the UK and have suggested that the VAT from energy bills could be used to bring all homes up to the energy efficiency standards observed in new builds.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said that the government body would outline its long-term commitment to tackling energy efficiency and fuel poverty in the spring.
“The Government is doing everything within its power to help hard-pressed families keep their energy bills down,” he added.
The report comes hot on the heels of the news that OFGEM has called for an investigation of the Big Six domestic energy supply companies by the Competition and Markets Authority, with the companies involved accused of using their considerable market share to inhibit competition in the industry and set consistently high prices for consumers.
For more information about Fuel Poverty Awareness Day and the report from the NEA and EAS:
Sky News report on figures released by the NEA and EAS: http://news.sky.com/story/1233249/millions-of-british-homes-in-fuel-poverty
The Guardian details the government cuts to green schemes: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/13/green-deal-eco-cuts-homes-insulation-energy-bills