Please join the Energy Bill Revolution campaign calling on the Government to use the money it gets from carbon taxes to make our homes super-energy efficient. Let’s make home energy efficiency a UK infrastructure priority. This is the only permanent solution to high energy bills and fuel poverty.
My MP’s Response.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the ‘end cold homes campaign’.
I share your concern about the large number of people in the UK – an estimated 2.4 million – who are living in fuel poverty and who may be unable to heat their home properly over the winter months. I also appreciate that many pensioners and their families are particularly worried about how they will pay their heating bills as energy prices continue to rise.
There were an estimated 31,000 excess winter deaths last year – 80% of who were among the over 75s – and I agree it is vital that the Government take action to reduce this alarming figure.
One of the major reasons that people are struggling to heat their homes this winter is that energy prices have gone up so significantly – by more than £300 since the 2010 General Election – and are set to rise again by an average of £70 this winter, despite the Government’s claims to have saved households money through cuts to ‘green levies’.
That is why I believe there needs to be a complete overhaul of our energy market so that it delivers fair prices and works in the public interest. The Government could act immediately to deliver this by legislating to freeze energy prices for 20 months and by requiring energy companies to put all over 75s on to the lowest tariff. Indeed, I supported an Opposition motion in the House of Commons on 6th November 2013 that called for the Government to do precisely this but unfortunately the Government voted against this motion.
I would also like to see the Government do much more to encourage people to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, as this is the most sustainable way to cuts bills and reduce energy use. However, the current Government’s two energy efficiency programmes – the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) – are wasteful and ineffective. Only slightly over 200 households have had a Green Deal package installed, and the ECO is inefficient and poorly targeted. The Government also scrapped the previous Government’s Warm Front scheme, which helped 2 million households to improve their energy efficiency.
I am very concerned that support for households in fuel poverty has halved under this Government and I am disappointed that the Government’s Energy Act does not contain a commitment for an effective and accountable fuel poverty strategy. That is why I supported an amendment to the Energy Bill that would have required the Government to set clear targets to reduce fuel poverty by 2020 and 2030, leading to the eradication of fuel poverty. Once again, though, the Government rejected this.
I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government to take action on both energy prices and to improve energy efficiency and I thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.
Lucy Powell MP