Autumn statement: Overlooking energy efficiency will leave millions in the cold this winter

Press release in response to Autumn Statement (23.11.16)

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) warns that failure to adequately invest in binding energy efficiency targets risks leaving millions struggling in fuel poverty this winter

Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement showed no mention of investment in energy saving and efficiency measures so desperately needed to lift 2.3m English homes out of fuel poverty this winter. The statement flies in the face of recommendations recently made by the Committee on Fuel Poverty, the government’s own advisory body, who call for a £20bn injection for its legally binding 2030 targets and 2020 and 2025 milestones to be met.

While in today’s Autumn Statement the government held fast to its intentions to tackle inequality, spend more on the country’s infrastructure and intervene to address failing energy markets and high energy pricing, there was a glaring and obvious energy efficiency shaped hole in the measures outlined. A lack of investment in energy efficiency measures, such as a well-funded second Energy Company Obligation, is a huge missed opportunity for economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The government must find £20bn if it is serious about meeting its legally binding fuel poverty target – that the energy standards of all fuel poor homes must be at least EPC C by 2030, the standard of homes built today. It is likely to miss its two interim milestones set out in its 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy that is that by 2020 no fuel poor household should live in a dangerously cold home below EPC E and that by 2025 no fuel poor household should live in a cold home – below EPC D.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling for the government to:
• Make sure £20bn is invested in improving fuel poor homes, as recommended by the Committee
• Hold a much-delayed parliamentary debate on fuel poverty as legally required, already overdue from May
• Put in place a detailed cross-departmental strategy and plan to show how it will meet the 2030 target and interim milestones

Fuel poverty background
• Twice as many fuel poor households live in cold homes (41%) as non-fuel poor households (19%)
• Fuel poor households need to pay £371 more per year to keep their home warm compared to the average household in England
• Prepayment meter consumers are more likely to be on a low income, a lone parent and disabled, yet pay on average £226 annually more for their energy than those paying by Direct Debit
• 2.3 million homes live in fuel poverty in England
• 96% of fuel poor homes are poorly insulated
• 21 million UK homes have poor energy efficiency (below B and C on an EPC)

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

“Being able to live in a home that is warm over wintertime is a most basic need, currently unmet by 2.3 million families in England. The Autumn Statement was a prime opportunity for the government to prove its commitment to energy efficiency and in turn the alleviation of fuel poverty. However, the lack of mention of vital energy efficiency measures sadly nods towards its own legally binding energy efficiency targets being more rhetoric than reality.

If the government is truly committed to building an economy that works for everyone, it will recognise the huge benefits of recognising energy efficiency as an infrastructure priority and the huge potential for job creation in tandem with poverty alleviation.”