Green Lobby Promotes Renewable Energy & Carbon Tax To Tackle Fuel Poverty

  • Date: 21/01/13
  • Laura Pitel, The Times

More than 100 energy companies, charities and businesses have joined forces to warn David Cameron that Britain is heading for a fuel poverty crisis owing to a failure of government policy.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, seen by The Times, they argue that ministers are not doing enough to tackle soaring gas and electricity bills that leave a growing number of people unable to heat their homes.

An unprecedented alliance, including Npower, the Co-operative, Age UK and Barnardo’s, urges Mr Cameron to use money raised from the “carbon tax” to be levied from April to tackle the “national disgrace” of cold homes. A programme to fit houses with proper insulation would, they say, protect the vulnerable, help the environment and boost the economy.

With temperatures at their lowest of the winter and further snowfall forecast, the organisations, working under the banner of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, say that 6 million households are affected by fuel poverty because they spend more than 10 per cent of their income keeping rooms at an adequate temperature. Stagnating wages and soaring bills means mean that up to 9 million homes may be affected by 2016.

The group warns that two initiatives to be introduced next week, the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation, “are not enough” to halt the growth of fuel poverty or end hardship.

The only way to tackle the problem in the long term, they argue, is to embark on a nationwide programme to retrofit insulation — a move that would save the average family £310 a year on energy bills. They say that such a scheme could be funded using revenue from George Osborne’s tax on CO2 production by industry, expected to yield £2 billion a year, rising to £4 billion from 2020.


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Energy Bill Revolution

The crisis

We are facing an energy bill crisis, with millions of people struggling to heat their homes.

1 in 4 households in the UK are now in fuel poverty, meaning they need to spend more than 10% of their income on keeping their homes warm. The problem is likely to get worse, with 1 in 3 households projected to be in fuel poverty by 2016.

The main reasons for this crisis are that gas, oil and coal prices are high, and the UK’s homes are some of the most energy inefficient in Europe – leaking heat from their doors, walls and windows. This means they cost much more than they should to heat and power, and they contribute to climate change too.

Cold homes are damaging the health of vulnerable members of society, including children, older people and people with disabilities. Diseases such as asthma are made worse, and people are more likely to have strokes and heart attacks. Illnesses caused by cold homes cost the NHS nearly one billion pounds each year.

On average, at least 7,800 people die every year from living in cold homes – more than four times the number of people who die on British roads.

The solution

But there is a fair and permanent solution. We can have warm homes, reduce our fuel bills and cut carbon emissions.

The answer is for the Government to use the money it gets from carbon taxes to help make homes super-energy efficient – with excellent insulation, renewable energy and modern boilers.

Even though these things save money on energy bills and keep our homes warmer, many people simply can’t afford to pay for them – meaning they stay cold. That’s why the Government must provide more funding to help.

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