Bonfield Review overlooks local level fuel poverty interventions

The Each Home Counts review, or Bonfield Review, was launched in 2015 to consider issues relating to consumer advice, protection, standards and enforcement in relation to home energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in the UK.

It makes 27 recommendations on the themes below:

  • Consumer advice and protection
  • Standards framework
  • Monitoring and enforcement

We regard the Bonfield Review as an important opportunity to lay out practical measures to support energy efficiency measures, with the intention to eradicate fuel poverty as one of the key motivators. However, while the review makes some helpful proposals we are concerned that some key factors have been overlooked.

Primarily, a lack of focus on the importance of local and bespoke, personalised advice and support, as well as a poor integration between local and national government in the development and delivery of the measures proposed.

EFPC response to the Bonfield Review outlines three key recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Advice for fuel poor customers, particularly those that are vulnerable, needs to be embedded in wider local referral networks.

Recommendation 2: Ensure that provision of a local holistic fuel poverty advice service is supported by and funded by all relevant departments i.e. Department of Health, DWP and BEIS.

Recommendation 3: Advice must be provided in a variety of formats: telephone, internet and face to face, including home visits from trusted intermediaries for the most vulnerable.

You can read EFPC response to the Bonfield Review and the full review itself here.

Further action on prepayment meters required say Fuel Poverty Action

Fuel Poverty Action, an EFPC member, are continuing to press for the abolition of extra charges for energy customers using prepayment meters.

In October the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it would impose a cap on costs for prepayment customers that would reduce bills by £75 a year. While a reduction is of course welcome, £75 is certainly not enough.

Prepayment meter users pay on average £300 more than customers on direct debit and are usually the worst off customers. Fuel Poverty Action, in collaboration with a number of organisations, are campaigning for  parity on energy costs, regardless of the method of payment.

So back on 11th November FPA and friends took action and went to the CMA directly to hand in their response, held in in a tiny doll’s cap, to highlight the insult of the CMA’s insufficient proposal.

Passing on the cap containing a scroll with the response, Ruth London of FPA told Project Director Erika Lewis,

“Energy companies’ license conditions forbid discrimination against users of PPMs, the CMA’s own Roger Witcombe has declared, ‘It is unacceptable that 4 million households on prepayment meters, many of them vulnerable, face higher bills than other energy customers,’ and yet the CMA’s proposals will perpetuate this injustice.”

Erika Lewis, for the CMA, agreed that the proposals are not set in stone and promised that they would take seriously the evidence provided.

To find out more and read Fuel Poverty Action’s statement on the CMA announcement please go to



NEA launch the Warm Homes Campaign – ‘I, Daniel Blake’ star backing the campaign

NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of being able to live in a warm, comfortable home and illustrate how to improve access to equal life chances. This year, NEA is teaming up with I, Daniel Blake star Dave Johns who is backing the campaign.

“It is a complete scandal that people die because they can’t afford to heat their homes. I, Daniel Blake shows the tragic circumstances and daily dilemma of ‘heating or eating’ faced by many thousands of people in Britain today. I’m backing NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign to highlight what help’s available to cope with rising energy bills as winter takes hold and demand more support from Government.” Dave Johns

The campaign highlights that around four million UK households are still unable to access equal life chances because they live in a cold, damp home. These life chances are further compromised depending on the tenure of the home our baby will be born into.

New research by NEA shows that energy efficiency problems such as damp and unhealthily low temperatures are more prevalent in privately rented homes such as shared properties, bedsits and hostels. In a recent survey over two thirds said residents cannot afford to heat their room or shared space adequately. A similar number said the worst rental properties have such inadequate heating and insulation that it is impossible to keep them warm and free from damp.

The charity is warning that a baby born today and living in cold housing is more than twice as likely to suffer from breathing problems including asthma and bronchitis and three times as likely to suffer from wheezing and respiratory illness. As she grows up in the same housing conditions her chances of suffering mental health problems are higher – one in four adolescents living in a cold home are at risk of multiple mental health problems and evidence proves that living in fuel poverty impacts on educational attainment.

Find out more about the campaign here and its key asks here.

For updates on the campaign follow NEA on twitter @NEA_UKCharity #WarmHomesCampaign

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.”

Advisory body calls for major funding injection to meet fuel poverty targets

Substantial investment is required if the government is to meet its fuel poverty targets according to its advisory body. The first report of the Committee on Fuel Poverty makes clear that 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.

The Committee also warns that without a substantial injection of funding, the government is likely to miss its two interim milestones set out in its 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy, that is:

  • by 2020 no fuel poor household should live in a dangerously cold home – below EPC E; and
  • by 2025, no fuel poor household should live in a cold home – below EPC

The Committee makes 15 recommendations to government. As well as more money, it recommends re-introducing the Landlord’s Energy Savings Allowance; more financial assistance for households as they wait for energy efficiency improvements; improved targeting of fuel poor households through better data sharing; and improved energy advice.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition welcomes the CFP’s report and its echoing our core concerns.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling for the government to:

1. Make sure £20bn is invested in improving fuel poor homes, as recommended by the Committee

2. Hold a much-delayed parliamentary debate on fuel poverty as legally required, already overdue from May

3. Put in place a detailed cross-departmental strategy and plan to show how it will meet the 2030 target and interim milestones

More information on the recommendations of the report are summarised on our website and in the full report.

Read the End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s response to the Committee on Fuel Poverty’s report here.

Committee for Fuel Poverty releases its first annual report

The government’s advisory group on fuel poverty, the Committee for Fuel Poverty, this week released its first annual report after being established at the start of the year.

Tasked with advising government on fuel poverty policy, specifically the delivery of its Fuel Poverty Strategy, the report offers detailed analysis and a series of urgent recommendations in order for impending 2020 and 2030 government fuel poverty targets to be met.

Noting the closeness of the government’s 2020 target deadline, it makes a series of urgent recommendations to increase the efficiency, impact and likelihood of averting expected shortfalls in delivery and funding. Even with ramped up and more targeted action, the committee notes that to meet the 2020 milestones there would be a back-up of activity in 2018 and 2019.

Of particular note, the report recommends;

• A stronger emphasis on improvements in the targeting of fuel poor households, right down to being able to identify individual addresses to facilitate roll out of specific services and support.

• Better Data Sharing legislation to connect up information held across government departments.

• Moving expenditure from the full suite of Government fuel poverty programmes so that it is more focused on fuel poor households, to include Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount.

• The provision of a ‘targeting efficiency metric’ for each fuel poverty programme.

• Fuel poor households to be given help with fuel bills until their homes are improved.

• A greater role for councils, charities and health agencies to work alongside fuel companies to delivery energy efficiency programmes.

• Investing into energy efficiency from National Infrastructure funds.

• Placing onus on private landlords to fund energy efficiency up to minimum standards in their properties.

More detailed analysis of the report will be provided by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, but in the meantime information on the Committee for Fuel Poverty and its report and recommendations can be found here, as well as the government’s 2015 fuel poverty strategy ‘Cutting the cost of keeping warm’ for reference.

Health and wellbeing boards failing to sufficiently tackle fuel poverty, NEA report outlines

EFPC member, National Energy Action, this week launched ‘Get Warm Soon?’, its report investigating the impact of health and wellbeing boards in England in their approach to tackling fuel poverty.

The report assesses how many health and wellbeing boards in England are including public health indicators on fuel poverty and excess winter deaths in their needs assessments and health and wellbeing strategies. It also assesses the extent to which health and wellbeing boards are applying National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations to reduce ill health associated with living in a cold home.

While there are some signs for optimism, NEA’s findings show serious call for concern on the role and impact of health and wellbeing boards in tackling fuel poverty.

• 40% of health and wellbeing board strategies fail to address fuel poverty or excess winter deaths.

• Only 32% of health and wellbeing boards reference actions in their joint strategic needs assessments or strategy that are in line with at least one of the 12 NICE recommendations.

• 30% have some form of health and housing referral service in place to provide tailored solutions to people vulnerable to the cold, but only one-fifth of boards reference such a service in their strategies.

• Evidence of procedures that make sure hospitals and other service providers do not discharge patients into cold homes is only available for 13% of boards.

• The majority of health and wellbeing boards are not yet playing the leadership role envisaged by NICE and Public Health England to address ill health from cold homes

• More optimistically, there is an increase in the number of boards prioritising fuel poverty as a health and wellbeing issue, with more than a third of boards now doing so.

Get Warm Soon?’ goes on to outline a series of recommendations, focusing on;

• Incorporating the NICE guidance into joint health and wellbeing strategies
• Improving public health leadership to tackle cold homes
• Improving accountability
• Implementing the NICE recommendations
• Tailoring fuel poverty schemes to address public health priorities

For more information contact NEA and read the full report or executive summary.

Winter deaths surge

An estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2014/15 – the highest number since 1999/00 with 27% more people dying in the winter months compared with the non-winter months, according to figures just released by Office for National Statistics (25 November 2015)

Four in every five deaths (82%) occurred among people aged 75 and over. There were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group in 2014/15, compared with 7,700 in people under 75.

Respiratory diseases were the underlying cause of death in more than a third of all excess winter deaths in 2014/15.

Excess winter deaths for men and women more than doubled in just one year, with more deaths among women than men. Male excess winter deaths increased from 7,210 to 18,400, and female deaths from 10,250 to 25,500 between 2013/14 and 2014/15.

The excess winter mortality index was highest in the South West in 2014/15 and joint lowest in Yorkshire and The Humber, and Wales.

Chancellor cuts help for cold homes despite surge in excess winter deaths

George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

On the same day (25 November) that official figures revealed that last winter’s excess winter deaths were the highest for 15 years, the chancellor announced that he was cutting the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

George Osborne announced, in the spending review, that ECO will run for five years from April 2017 with an annual budget of £640m. This represents a 42 per cent reduction in expenditure. The average ECO spend over the 2.5 years to the end of June 2015 was £1.1bn per annum.

End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) chair Jenny Holland said:

“The chancellor failed to heed calls from 200 organisations to commit infrastructure funds to a major energy efficiency programme targeted on the fuel poor. He also indicated a cut in ECO, the only remaining help in England for householders living in cold homes. Infrastructure funds to make our homes energy efficient would have led to lower bills and a massive saving to the NHS. Instead he is slicing the key policy in England that can bring much-needed help to the fuel poor. National Energy Action (NEA) estimates that this decision could lead to the NHS having to spend in excess of £22bn to treat cold-related illnesses over the next 15 years.

“The chancellor’s decision was short-sighted – and we urge him to think again. We will also be asking the newly formed National Infrastructure Commission to recommend to government the use of the UK public infrastructure budget to invest in a major energy efficiency to make our homes warm and healthy to live in.”

Energy efficiency is not at the core of new policy

Amber Rudd
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd MP
A ‘consumer-led, competition-focused energy system that has energy security at the heart of it’ was the core message from Energy Secretary Amber Rudd when she announced plans to close all coal-fired power plants by 2025 but relax the drive for renewable energy.

The speech, on Wednesday 18 November 2015, aimed to ‘reset’ Britain’s energy policy. Energy Secretary Rudd did recognise that: “One of the best ways to cut bills and cut carbon is to cut energy use itself” and said she was ‘determined’ that help though the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) would be ‘concentrated on those in greatest need’.

“It is was good that Amber Rudd mentioned energy efficiency but it was towards the end of her speech” said End Fuel Poverty Coalition Chair Jenny Holland. “Energy efficiency and a programme focusing on the homes of those in fuel poverty must be at the core of any energy policy. Yet Amber Rudd’s pledge to insulate 1m homes represents an 80 per cent drop compared with activity in the last Parliament – and ECO alone can’t keep out the cold and make homes affordably warm.”

Jenny Holland also added that energy competition often failed those on low incomes who could not benefit from online deals using direct debit. “Making energy competition work for everyone should also be a government priority” she said.