Cuts to homes energy efficiency drive up fuel poverty
The TUC argues that today’s fuel poverty figures show that the significant investment made under the last government on energy efficiency measures had a huge impact, removing 500,000 households from fuel poverty in 2010. But fears of resurgence in fuel poverty, driven by the price of gas, cuts to energy efficiency programmes and falling incomes are borne out in today’s report.
An extra one million households in England alone fell into the fuel poverty trap this year: there are 3.9 million fuel poor households in England, up from 3.5 million in 2010. And new evidence from ACE shows that the government is cutting in half the budget to make fuel poor homes energy efficient, despite evidence that this is the most effective way to bring homes out of fuel poverty.
There will be no public expenditure in energy efficiency next year. The briefing released by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) today shows that in 2009/10 investment in energy efficiency targeted at fuel poor households was at a recent high of over £1.1bn. Investment in energy efficiency, has suffered cuts of 17-18% for two years and will have been slashed by over 50% of the 2009/10 levels next year. Total expenditure targeted on alleviating fuel poverty has been cut by almost 30% in 3 years.
The Devolved Nations have protected, if not increased, budgets.
- the Welsh Assembly Government funds have recently been confirmed for its main programmes to 2016 respectively.
- the Scottish fuel poverty budget is set to rise 56% in three years from £54.5m in 2011/12 to £85.1m in 2014/15. Even this huge increase in Scottish investment is not considered to be adequate to the task of eradicating fuel poverty by 2016.
The TUC and a number of trade unions have joined the 84 organisations now backing the Energy Bill Revolution, a campaign asking for carbon tax revenues to be used to make homes highly energy efficient. From next year the Government will be collecting over £2 billion in carbon tax every year, rising to £4 billion by 2020 and £7 billion by 2027. This is enough to super-insulate over 600,000 homes a year, bringing 9 out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty. It could also quadruple carbon emission savings from households compared to the Governments new energy efficiency policies and create up to 200,000 more jobs.
The new alliance estimates that across the whole of the UK there are now over 6 million households in fuel poverty and that this will rise further as gas prices are projected to increase this year.