Much more is needed from the government to help those facing fuel poverty
Energy firms this morning pledged to pass on savings from a Government shake-up of energy levies. British Gas said it will cut dual-fuel bills by an average of £53 from 1 January, while SSE is expecting a dual-fuel saving of around 4 per cent before the end of March, worth.
The moves come after Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that the costs of some energy-efficiency and social schemes will be rolled back in Thursday’s Autumn Statement.
Two things. First the bill cuts still mean that – in British Gas’s case – have still been hit with a 6 per cent price hike this autumn.
Second: fifty quid off soaring bills will do little to alleviate the growing financial pressure felt by those hit by fuel poverty. That’s when the cost of heating their home accounts for a tenth of their spending money. Being in fuel poverty leave many being forced to choose between heating and eating in the winter months.
Fuel Poverty Action campaigner Clare Welton said: “Both the energy companies and the government have today been quick to congratulate themselves on a small ‘reduction’ to energy bills, while putting forward no real solutions to end fuel poverty. Bills were too high for millions of households before the latest price hike, and will still be too high after today’s announcement of a slightly lower increase in prices. Furthermore, the announcement today bares no impact on energy company profits or their CEO’s bonuses, it simply transfers costs onto the taxpayer while making life harder for poorly insulated, cold households.”
More needs to be done to help vulnerable people in the Autumn Statement. Here’s Jenny Saunders, chief executive of NEA, the national fuel poverty charity: “The Government should remove VAT on the levies we pay through bills, tax-fund planned relief for energy intensive exemptions and most of all address the most regressive levy, the carbon floor price,” she says.
“On energy efficiency, while relieved that the Government has taken steps to ensure there is no reduction in the current annual delivery rate of the parts of the ECO programme that support low-income and vulnerable householders, the exact nature of this is critical. More broadly, we urgently need a much more ambitious plan that explicitly helps the poorest households who live in the least energy efficient homes.”
Clare Welton added: “With far fewer homes now to be insulated each year, the £50 ‘reduction’ comes at the cost of condemning tens of thousands of households to another freezing winter without adequate insulation and with ever-rising bills and it is only energy companies that will benefit from poorly insulated homes with high fuel costs.”
NEA has today launched a winter-long campaign calling on the Government to ensure that the forthcoming fuel poverty strategy for England sets a new primary objective for minimum energy efficiency targets for low-income households.Tagged in: autumn statement, british gas, Energy, fuel poverty, george osborne, heating
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