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NOTICE OF MOTION: END FUEL POVERTY
This Council notes the work to date on ending fuel poverty in our area, but acknowledges that thousands of households are estimated to be in fuel poverty and more can be done to end fuel poverty by 2030.
This Council resolves:
- To instruct the chief executive and officers to create a strategy to end fuel poverty in the area by 2030. This will be achieved by:
- improving the energy efficiency of Council / housing association housing stock
- enforcement of existing regulations on energy efficiency and property standards, particularly in the private rented sector
- publishing a statement of intent and setting locally appropriate eligibility criteria to access Energy Company Obligation funding via the Local Authority Flexibility arrangements (if not already in place)
- Levering in funds to improve the energy efficiency standards of all housing
- improving private tenants’ rights
- providing accessible information, advice and guidance in a variety of formats to those most in need
- maximising the incomes of low income households through the efficient delivery of Council-administered benefits, sensitive recovery of debt and the provision of advice and support
- working in partnership with other agencies and voluntary and community groups to implement and monitor delivery of the Strategy
- To instruct the chief executive and officers to report on progress on ending fuel poverty in every six months.
- To become a Member of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.
Everybody has the right to a warm, dry home that they can afford to heat and power. Yet, millions live in fuel poverty. Ending fuel poverty also helps local authorities reduce carbon emissions in their areas as many of the solutions are highly energy efficient.
Fuel poverty means that a household is forced below the poverty line as a result of the cost of using energy in their home. At least 3m households are in fuel poverty in England alone (BEIS). This means more than one in ten of all households cannot afford to keep warm and meet their other energy needs. The End Fuel Poverty Coalition predicts this will significantly increase due to the recent energy crisis.
Fuel poverty is caused by low income, high fuel prices, poor energy efficiency, unaffordable housing prices and poor quality private rental housing. It can lead to respiratory, circulatory and mental health problems (PHE) as well c.11,400 winter deaths caused by cold homes (NEA). In children, it can lead to developmental problems and poor performance at school (NCB). It can lead to people taking days off work (IPPR).
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Ending fuel poverty is in our grasp and local authorities have a role to play.
Local authorities are able to take action to help alleviate fuel poverty directly. This can be through the following ways:
- Improve energy efficiency / insulation on the Council’s own housing stock with an aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions.
- Lever in funds to improve the energy efficiency standards of all housing tenures
- Declare a target (e.g. 2030) of making sure nobody in the area will suffer from a cold home due to fuel poverty or their inability to have the necessary insulation and heating.
- Enforce existing regulations around energy efficiency and property standards in private rental sector and houses of multiple occupancy (other local authorities have found this to provide income).
- Deploy ECO Flexible Eligibility, to identify residents who may be in fuel poverty but may not fit under the current Energy Company Obligation funding criteria and sign a declaration for them making them eligible.
- Take action to stop unaffordable rent rises and improve tenants’ rights locally.
- Provide information advice and guidance to local residents about reducing fuel bills, improving energy efficiency, their rights to welfare benefits and to help them access available funding and grants.
- Put in place cross-departmental arrangements and partnerships with the health sector and other local agencies to achieve the above objectives
There are additional benefits to ending fuel poverty that apply to local authorities specifically
A Local Government Association report suggested that addressing fuel poverty could reduce demands on public spending and that lower-value spending and higher costs would stem out of failing to invest in energy efficiency savings in local social housing stock.
Energy Bill Revolution research found three major benefits of energy efficiency improvements which are likely to filter down into the local economy:
- It bolsters employment and output in the construction sector.
- It reduces expenditure on energy.
- It increases expenditure on consumer goods and services.
The End Fuel Poverty Coalition exists to fight for the abolition of fuel poverty.
The End Fuel Poverty Coalition campaigns to influence government and other bodies to take action to end fuel poverty and thereby improve people’s health and quality of life as well as seeking to reduce the cost of living, create jobs and negate carbon emissions in the process. It is a broad coalition of over 20 anti-poverty, environmental and health campaigners, local authorities, trade unions and consumer organisations. The fee for Councils to become members is GBP250 a year.