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Fuel Poverty Definition Changes in England

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Helen Perkins, projects director at IES, explains that the definition of fuel poverty states that a householder is considered to be in fuel poverty if they need to spend 10% or more of their income on energy costs, and they are considered to be in severe fuel poverty if they need to spend over 20% of their income on these costs.

 

New Definition

As part of a new fuel poverty strategy for England, the definition of fuel poverty is now changing. Following the recalculation of fuel poverty targets that was proposed in draft legislation before the Houses of Parliament on July 22nd 2014, the government have now released a consultation document inviting people to share their opinions and responses to the new fuel poverty strategy and definition. The consultation document and questions can be viewed here.

Previously, the fuel poverty definition was consistent across the UK. However, following an independent review of fuel poverty by Professor Sir John Hills, the government have laid a new foundation for the definition in England only, stating that the previous definition was flawed, and the new definition will allow vital accuracy in measuring fuel poverty.

The new method for measuring and defining fuel poverty in England will be the low income high cost indicator, which will focus on what makes fuel poverty distinct from general income poverty. Under this new definition a household is found to be fuel poor if it has an income below the poverty line (or paying required energy bills would push it that way), and if the household has higher than typical energy costs.

 

New Target

In addition to this changing definition, the government are also altering the target and previous strategy to combat fuel poverty. Previously, that target was to ensure that no person lived in fuel poverty by 2016, as far as was reasonably practical. However, the government believe this target to be flawed, and that it did not prove helpful in designing policies to tackle the issue. The new target will be to ensure that as many fuel poor homes, as is reasonably practicable, will achieve a minimum energy efficiency standard of Band C by 2030. This new target focuses more on the energy efficiency of fuel poor homes, explicitly linking it to the climate change agenda, in order to make a difference to household bills, regardless of future energy prices. Currently, only 4% of fuel poor homes in England have a C rating or above, while 60% have an E rating or lower.

This is an ambitious target for the government, but one they believe they can fulfil through energy efficiency schemes already running across the country, such as the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal, for which they have confirmed plans to improve rates of delivery in areas off the gas grid, and ensure the high quality of installations.

 

What other problems can fuel poverty cause?

Fuel poverty is a consistent and ongoing issue in the UK, where only marginal improvement has been made through the past few years. Not only is fuel poverty a financial issue for thousands of people, but it can also bring about many other problems as well. Living at low temperatures can cause depression, cardio-vascular problems, respiratory problems, and there is also evidence that it can contribute to social isolation and poor educational attainment. There is also the question of how much fuel poverty contributes to excess winter deaths. The health problems associated with living in low temperatures can also bring about undue stress and worry for other family members, and can bring about an even greater financial burden when seeking medical treatment. This also comes at a greater cost to the NHS.

It is clear that fuel poverty needs to be dealt with in a clear, consistent, and realistic manner, and more needs to be done to increase the rate at which houses are being brought out of fuel poverty. This new change in the fuel poverty strategy states only ‘as many homes as reasonably practicable’ and does not give a concrete figure to aim for. There is great uncertainty surrounding how many fuel poor homes this could support, and the delivery will depend on a number of factors, such as changes in delivery costs and affordability. Because of this, it must also be uncertain as to whether this change in strategy and definition will indeed help more people, and increase the rate of fuel poverty reduction, more so than the previous definition.

Along with these changes, Ofgem are also proposing to alter their Fuel Poor Network Extension, to reflect this new definition, and align itself with other schemes. You can read more about this change, and the find out how to submit your responses to it, on our Warm Wales blog here.

To find out more about the changing fuel poverty strategy and definition in England, you can read the full consultation document here. You can find details on how to respond in the document itself. All responses must be received by October 7th 2014.

For more information about fuel poverty, and relevant legislation and consultations, please contact IES on 01656 747623.

 

Be an Energy Shopper

Friday, April 25th, 2014

New research has shown that while Brits are keen bargain hunters, we don’t often apply this to make sure we are getting a better deal from the energy market.

This can be because people find it difficult to compare different energy tariffs, and the whole switching process can be far too time consuming. However, with energy prices constantly on the rise, it is more important than ever to make sure you are on the most affordable tariff.

The good news is that there have been recent reforms to the gas and electricity market which make it simpler, clearer and fairer, when it comes to shopping for the right energy tariff.

The energy regulator Ofgem has set up a website where you can find out all about the recent reforms.  The site takes you through everything you need to know to lower your energy bills, including explaining the jargon used, the pricing structures, and how much energy you are actually using.

So now it is even easier to go energy shopping and get a better deal on your gas and electricity.  Visit www.goenergyshopping.co.uk and find out how to Be An Energy Shopper.

National Green Deal and ECO Awards 2014

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Warm Wales-Cymru Gynnes CEO, Craig Anderson, is nominated in the ‘Fuel Poverty Campaigner of the Year’ category in the National Greend Deal & ECO awards.

(more…)

Family’s Free Boiler Joy!

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

A broken boiler was something Ruth Evans didn’t need when her central heating boiler broke down, leaving her family without heating or hot water.

With two small children they had to boil the kettle just to get hot water. (more…)

Let’s not forget Leaseholders

Monday, July 1st, 2013

The Government estimates there are over 2.5 million households in the UK which could benefit from free replacement boilers.  This applies to householders who have old, inefficient or broken boilers and is now open to leaseholders as well as homeowners and landlords. (more…)

Are you eligible for a free Boiler?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

The Government estimates there are over 2.5 million households in the UK which could benefit from free replacement boilers.  This applies to householders whose current boiler is over 15 years old or is broken.

Older boilers, even those which are working properly, are generally considered to be inefficient. A new A rated boiler will be over 90% efficient, whilst an older boiler may be as little as 65% or lower. This means is that an older boiler has to work much harder to heat your home to the same temperature as a new boiler – using more energy and costing you more money. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a new energy efficient boiler could save between £190 and £240 a year on average household heating bills. (more…)

Claim a Grant in Gas Safety Week

Monday, September 10th, 2012

This week is Gas Safety Week across the United Kingdom when householders are encouraged to take practical steps to ensure the safety of appliances in their homes.

Many households have converted to gas recently as it is considered to be the cheapest form of fuel compared to oil and coal. It is also the cleanest of these fuels, having the lowest carbon dioxide emissions, making it less harmful to the atmosphere. (more…)

Claim a Grant for Heating your Home

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Have you recently installed new gas heating in your home? Warm Wales is a community interest company and currently has a grant fund available to qualifying householders who now use mains gas to heat their homes for the first time.

If you previously used coal, oil or electric to heat your home but have now converted to a mains gas central heating system you may be eligible to claim a grant of up to £75.

To find out if you are eligible for a grant you need to contact Warm Wales on 01639 825960 or by email to information@warmwales.org.uk

Warm Wales Help Keep Plas Carmel Residents Warm

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Residents at Plas Carmel in Pontypridd can look forward to warmer homes and reduced fuel bills following extensive work carried out at the residents’ home to install gas and new central heating systems.

Mary Evans – Plas Carmel residentBuilt in 1982 on the site of the former Carmel Chapel in Graigwen, Pontypridd, Plas Carmel is a purpose built property for older people, consists of studio, one, two and three bedroom properties, and currently houses 31 residents in 26 flats.

Residents, who range in age from 58 to 92, previously had to manage with electric storage heaters, and hot water immersion heaters. Many found this particularly cumbersome and inflexible as they had to rely on neighbours to turn the heating on for them if they’d been away.

But now, with Plas Carmel connected to mains gas and with ‘A’ rated energy efficient boilers and central heating in each individual property, residents are able to enjoy their cosy homes knowing they’re reducing the impact on the planet. What’s even better for the residents is that the work didn’t cost them a penny. (more…)

Wales&West Utilities – OFGEM Report

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Wales&West Utilities and Intergrated Energy Services have been working tirelessly to inform social landlords and members of the public about our scheme and the package of funding they can benefit from to improve the energy efficiency of the home.

Select this link to view the full report WWU OFGEM Report March 2011.