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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 that more can be done to end fuel poverty by 2030.
This Council resolves:
- To instruct the chief executive and officers to create a strategy with the aim of ending 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, including signpost, refer & follow-up cases of debt to ensure residents are supported.
- To instruct the chief executive and officers to report on progress on ending fuel poverty in every six months.
- To request the Council Leader writes to the HM Treasury asking for adequate funding to upgrade homes.
- 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 of households across the country are in fuel poverty with devastating consequences.
Public Health England (PHE) have declared that there is “clear evidence on the links between cold temperatures and respiratory problems. Resistance to respiratory infections is lowered by cool temperatures and can increase the risk of respiratory illness.”
The British Medical Journal reports that “children growing up in cold, damp, and mouldy homes with inadequate ventilation have higher than average rates of respiratory infections and asthma, chronic ill health, and disability. They are also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and slower physical growth and cognitive development.”
Fuel poverty means that a household is forced below the poverty line as a result of the cost of using energy in their home. Ending fuel poverty also helps local authorities reduce carbon emissions in their areas as many of the solutions are highly energy efficient.
Fuel poverty is caused by low income, high fuel prices, poor energy efficiency, unaffordable housing prices and poor quality private rental housing.
Age, well-being and disability are often included in the cause of fuel poverty. 3 out of 10 of the disabled community lives in poverty as contrasted with 23% of the non-disabled population (Joseph Rowntree 2020). This number is set to double in the coming year (Turn2Us 2022). Disabled people have higher unavoidable energy needs than non-disabled people (Scope 2022)
But 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 in multiple occupation (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. For example, councils can serve improvement notices as part of any enforcement around Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards which will also protects tenants from no-fault eviction for 6 months.
- Provide and promote accessible 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.