Ofgem announces methodology for the next energy network price control

Ofgem, the regulator for gas and electricity markets, has today confirmed its network price control methodology.  The next round of network price controls, otherwise known as RIIO-2, will run from 2021 to 2026 and aims to deliver a smarter and sustainable energy network at a lower cost to consumers.

The methodology highlights the imperative role distribution networks have in supporting consumers in vulnerable situations. As such, the assistance network companies provide to consumers in vulnerable situations will increase. This includes:

  • Enhanced licence conditions
  • Incentives to ensure vulnerability is considered during customer interaction
  • A reform of current innovation funding and additional funds to support projects which help vulnerable customers.

Ofgem have confirmed that the fuel poor network extension scheme, which provides fuel poor households access to free or subsidised gas network connections, will continue. A re-opener will also be introduced to allow for networks to deliver energy efficiency measures, should the Government decide that networks have a role in providing such to fuel poor households.

 

Downward trend in fuel poverty levels in Scotland continues

The Annual Compendium of Scottish Energy Statistics, published by the Scottish Government, has revealed that the downward trend in fuel poverty has continued.

Approximately 613,000 households in Scotland lived in fuel poverty in 2017, equating to 24.9% of all households. 7% (174,000) of these were living in extreme fuel poverty (when a household is required to spend over 20% of their income on fuel). These figures are the lowest recorded since 2005/06.

Call for Evidence: Implementing Fuel Poverty Strategies in the UK

End Fuel Poverty Coalition member National Energy Action (NEA), has issued a call for evidence to better understand the successes and challenges of delivering work towards implementing fuel poverty strategies in each UK nation.

Stakeholders are invited to contribute by completing a survey. This should take no longer than 30 minutes, depending on the length of your responses and how many sections you complete. The surveys will be open until 4pm on Friday 31st May 2019.

  • To complete the survey for England, please click here.
  • To complete the survey for Northern Ireland, please click here.
  • To complete the survey for Scotland, please click here.
  • To complete the survey for Wales, please click here.

The evidence collected will contribute to NEA and Energy Action Scotland’s Fuel Poverty Monitor, an annual investigative report into fuel poverty levels in the UK and within each of the four nations. The Monitor also investigates the key policies and practices that are in place to tackle cold homes and makes country-specific and national recommendations. This years Monitor will review progress in delivering fuel poverty strategies and meeting statutory targets in each of the nations.

If you require any support in relation to the survey, please contact louise.clanfield@nea.org.uk.

New minimum standard regulations for the private rented sector come into force

As of April 2019, landlords who own homes with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of Band F and G, will be required to install energy efficiency measures in order to bring the property up to a Band E. The changes are expected to affect around 290,000 properties, representing 6% of the domestic market. Householders living in these homes are expected to save an average of £180 annually. The Government’s press release can be read here.

The regulations will apply to landlords with properties in England and Wales, requiring them to spend up to £3,500  bringing homes up to a EPC Band E. However, should it cost more than this, landlords will be able to apply for an exemption.

The private rented sector has the highest level of fuel poverty, with 19.4% of households in the sector fuel poor, compared to 7.7% of owner-occupiers and the national average of 11.1%. Excess cold is the largest avoidable cause of death in this sector, with 30% of preventable winter deaths attributed to living in a cold home.

Government statistics reveal increase in household energy bills

Statistics released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) reveal an increase in household energy bills in 2018.

The figures show that the average household energy bill (based on an annual fixed consumption of 3,800 kWh for electricity and 15,000 kWh for gas), increased by £65. This represents a 5.2% increase from 2017, bringing bills up to £1,314). On average, electricity bills increased by £49 and gas £16.

(BEIS, 2019)

When based on actual annual consumption, households have seen a increase of 3.9% in cash terms (to £1,155) and a 1.9% real term increase (£1,010 in 2018) in their combined energy bills.

The figures highlight the pressing  need for Government to take urgent action to tackle fuel poverty, which affects 2.55 million households in England alone.

Energy efficiency improvements drop to lowest levels since the launch of the Energy Company Obligation

Statistics released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, have revealed that the number of energy efficiency improvements delivered to households has fallen to the lowest level since the launch of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) in April 2013.

ECO is the Government’s flagship energy efficiency scheme which requires energy suppliers with over 250,000 domestic customers to help address fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions by providing measures to improve vulnerable households ability to heat their home. Click here for more information.

Between October and December 2018, the number of boilers installed was just 2,557, 97% less than the number installed during the same period in 2013. Furthermore, there were 6,461 installations of loft and wall insulation during the last 3 months of 2018, a fall of 98% on the installations in 2010 during this period.

Fuel poverty is influenced by poor energy efficiency of a home and with 2.55 million fuel poor households in England, these figures are disappointing.

End Fuel Poverty Coalition member, National Energy Action (NEA), have attributed the decline in installations to the Government failing to pass legislation and issues guidance in time for ECO3, which began in October 2018. NEA’s media release can be viewed here.

 

Cold homes killed 17,000 last winter

End Fuel Poverty Coalition members E3G and National Energy Action (NEA) have revealed that more than 17,000 deaths last winter were due to cold housing conditions. This is twice as many people who died in winter 2016/17.

In 2017/18 there were 50,100 excess winter deaths (the number of deaths between December and March compared to those outside of these months) in England and Wales. This is the highest on record since 1975/76.

The findings have been released on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, a nationally recognised day to raise awareness of fuel poverty and the importance of living in a warm and safe home.

The full press release can be downloaded here.

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2019

Friday 15th 2019 is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, a nationally recognised day to raise awareness of fuel poverty and the importance of living in a warm and safe home.

The day is coordinated by End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) member, National Energy Action (NEA) and concludes the Warm and Safe Homes Campaign.null

What is fuel poverty?

Fuel poverty is the condition by which a household is unable to afford to heat their home to an adequate temperature. This is influenced by three factors; low-incomes, high energy costs, and energy inefficient housing.

A shocking 4 million UK households are in fuel poverty and living in cold, damp and unsafe homes. The effects of such can be detrimental to people’s health, quality of life and wider communities. This includes negative impacts to physical and mental health, increased social isolation, poorer educational attainment and reduced economic productivity. Our health services spend £3.6 million every day treating the effects of fuel poverty and 15,000 of the 50,100 excess winter deaths last year were attributed to cold homes.

How can I get involved?

Supporting Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is easy! Here are a few ideas on how you can get involved:

  • Show your support on social media using the hashtags #FuelPovertyAwarenessDay and #WarmSafeHomes. Make sure you are following the EFPC (@EndFuelPoverty) to keep updated!
  • Change your profile picture on Twitter to the Fuel Poverty Awareness Day logo.
  • Read and share NEA’s Warm and Safe Homes Action Guide available to download here.
  • Take part in the Nations Biggest Housewarming by hosting your own fundraisingnull event. This might be a bake sale, fancy dress day or a dinner party. Click here for more information on how to register your event. Don’t forget to share any photos from your event on Twitter using the hashtags #neahousewarming or #neamugshot!

Find out more about Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on NEA’s website.

 

Default and pre-payment meter energy tariff caps set to increase

Ofgem, the regulator for gas and electricity markets, has today announced an increase to the cap on default and pre-payment meter tariffs.

First introduced on 1st January 2019, the energy price cap set a limit on a unit price of energy and a maximum standing charge. This meant energy suppliers had to charge consumers a price either at the level of or below the cap. As a result, consumers were expected to save an average of £76 annually.

However, as a result of higher wholesale energy costs, Ofgem has increased the level of the cap. The new cap will come into effect on 1st April 2019, under which the default tariff price cap will increase by £117 annually and the pre-payment meter cap by £106.

Responses from End Fuel Poverty Coalition members, Citizens Advice and National Energy Action, can be viewed by clicking on the member’s name.

Excess winter deaths hit record high at 50,100

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics today estimate that in 2017/18 there were an estimated 50,100 excess winter deaths (the number of deaths between December and March compared to those outside of these months) in England and Wales. This is the highest on record since 1975/76.

15,000 of these deaths are thought to be linked to living in a cold home. These deaths were avoidable and could have been prevented.

Jenny Holland, Chair of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) said:

“These figures are deeply shocking. We saw a staggering 40% leap in excess winter deaths last year compared with the number over the previous 5 years. There are many causes for these extra deaths, but over a third of them will have been related to living in a cold home.

“Every one of these preventable deaths has a tragic human story behind it. We call on Government to take urgent action to deliver the energy efficiency improvements to people’s homes that are so sorely needed. This will help alleviate winter pressures on GP surgeries and hospitals by tackling the avoidable illnesses and health problems linked to living in a cold home.”

Individual responses from members of the EFPC can be viewed by clicking on the members name; Age UK and National Energy Action.