Energy bills campaigners send message to leadership debates

Campaigners will take to the streets of Darlington ahead of the next Conservative Leadership Debate to demand urgent government action on the energy bills crisis.

New figures from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition show that around 36,000 people in over 9,000 homes will be in fuel poverty from 1 October in Darlington alone.

Now campaigners have formed a new group, Warm This Winter, to ask the leadership candidates to take the issue seriously.

They will be asking attendees at the event in Hippodrome to raise the energy bills crisis with Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak and ask them to commit to doing whatever it takes to avoid a nightmare winter for millions of people.

Local organiser, Kendra Ullyart, who is also coordinator of Darlington Friends of the Earth, said:

We all deserve to be warm in our own homes but right now soaring energy prices mean that millions of people are struggling to pay their bills, never mind this winter when costs will climb even higher.

The worrying part is that gas prices are predicted to stay high until at least 2030.In 2020, there were already thousands of households in Darlington living in fuel poverty, but rocketing energy costs mean there are now many more who need urgent, long-term solutions.

That’s why Darlington Friends of the Earth is adding its voice to the Warm This Winter campaign, to demand emergency financial support for those who will need it most this winter, as well as funding for a massive insulation scheme to cut the nation’s bills. Moving the country away from expensive gas and onto cheaper, renewable energy will also help to protect us all from future price shocks.

The public has grasped the scale and seriousness of the energy crisis, and deserves a leader who will act in our best interests. Tonight we hope Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will set out credible plans to ensure everyone stays warm this winter, and for years to come.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, added:

Across the North East hundreds of thousands of people will find themselves in fuel poverty this winter, with millions more having to make difficult decisions about household finances this winter.

We congratulate the campaigners for taking action in Darlington. The Warm this Winter campaign simply must succeed in ensuring the government helps those people who need it today and fixes the UK’s broken energy system for good.

Warm This Winter is a new campaign to ensure that families are helped this winter and to put the country in the best possible position to avoid future shocks and save money in the long-term.

It is calling on the government to provide more direct financial support to vulnerable households now, a national programme of energy efficiency for households to cut waste, a rollout of cheaper onshore renewables, and an end to the development of new oil and gas fields so that we are not locked into volatile fossil fuels for longer than is necessary.

Further action is planned for hustings in Birmingham, Norwich and London. To get involved, email info@endfuelpoverty.org.uk.

Decision on January price increase branded inhumane

Ofgem have confirmed that it will introduce a quarterly price cap increase on the energy bills of millions of people.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

Households will face a two-stage cost of living crisis this winter, thanks to Ofgem’s confirmation that energy bills will go up in October and again in January.

From October, millions of families across the country will face the real prospect of skipping meals to pay for energy, older people will shut themselves into one room to save on heating and disabled people will be unable to afford to charge vital equipment, such as electric wheelchairs.

Then in January, they will be asked to pay even more for their energy.

Ultimately, this decision will force more people into fuel poverty in the middle of winter, causing additional stress on the NHS and it may ultimately lead to increased levels of excess winter deaths this year. It is simply inhumane.

It’s clear that the Government and the Conservative Party leadership hopefuls just don’t get the scale of the problem facing the country, nor the public anger at rising bills. They are running out of time to act.

Only a full programme of emergency financial support, a rapid expansion of energy efficiency programmes and a commitment to bringing more cheap renewable energy on stream will help people stay warm this winter and into the future.

The decision comes after a week of massive increases in profits for energy firms, but with Centrica warning that its profits in its British Gas consumer division were hit by it having to ‘hedge‘ buying of energy due to the previous six monthly nature of the price cap regime.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Campaigns for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said:

Ofgem’s decision to introduce a quarterly price cap confirming household energy bills for millions of people will increase substantially in the depths of Winter is a further blow to those already struggling amidst this cost-of-living crisis.

Industry experts estimate that the typical households would be faced with energy bills of £3,358 from October, then £3,615 from January 2023. This is up from average energy bills of £1,400 a year in October 2021.

Ofgem’s principal duty is to protect the interests of existing and future consumers. Following today’s announcement which will plunge millions into fuel poverty, it is clear that it is failing in its duty to consumers.

UNISON head of energy Matt Lay said:

The government must stop pretending it’s done enough. Support for consumers has so far been pitiful. Other European governments have been both swifter and bolder to lessen the blows from big bills.

All but the richest consumers face a terrifying prospect this winter. Many simply don’t have the means to pay. Swift and radical government action is needed to cap the horrific price hikes predicted. Otherwise, there will be a crisis of unimaginable proportions.

Details of Energy Bills Support Scheme announced

Millions of households across Great Britain will receive non-repayable discounts on their energy bills this winter, as the UK Government today has set out further details of the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS).

The £400 discount, administered by energy suppliers, will be paid to consumers over six months with payments starting from October 2022, to ensure households receive financial support throughout the winter months.

The Government has stressed that in all cases, no household should be asked for bank details at any point. Ministers are urging consumers to stay alert of potential scams and report these to the relevant authorities where they are suspected.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

The details of the Energy Bills Support Scheme are broadly welcome.
The officials involved in the development of the scheme have done a good job in listening to the concerns of End Fuel Poverty Coalition members and have taken steps to ensure that every household will be able to benefit.
While there are a few outstanding concerns, we are pleased that BEIS has agreed to work with our members to address these.
The bigger issue, however, is that the level of support available will not be enough to offset the rises in energy bills expected in October and Ministers will need to instruct officials to expand the funding for the scheme.

The Government has issued detailed information for people on how the scheme will work, based on the current proposed £400 discount:

  • The £400 discount will be administered by suppliers and paid to consumers over six months with payments starting from October 2022, to ensure households receive financial support over the winter months.
  • Households will see a discount of £66 applied to their energy bills in October and November, rising to £67 each month from December through to March 2023.
  • The discount will be provided on a monthly basis regardless of whether consumers pay monthly, quarterly or have an associated payment card.
  • Households will never be asked for their bank details, and those with a domestic electricity connection will not need to apply.
  • There is no need to contact your supplier as all domestic electricity customers will be automatically eligible. Electricity bill payers should enquire with their supplier if they have not received their first instalment by the end of October.

Breakdown of the delivery process for each payment method:

  • Direct Debit customers will receive the discount automatically as a reduction to the monthly Direct Debit amount collected, or as a refund to the customer’s bank account following Direct Debit collection during each month of delivery.
  • Standard credit customers and payment card customers will see the discount automatically applied as a credit to standard credit customers’ accounts in the first week of each month of delivery, with the credit appearing as it would if the customer had made a payment.
  • Smart prepayment meter customers will see the discount credited directly to their smart prepayment meters in the first week of each month of delivery.
  • Traditional prepayment meter customers will be provided with redeemable vouchers or Special Action Messages (SAMs) in the first week of each month, issued via SMS text, email or post. Customers will need to take action to redeem these at their usual top-up point.
  • Landlords who have a domestic electricity contract with a licensed electricity supplier and then resell the electricity to their tenants based on energy usage must comply with the maximum resale price rules. The maximum resale price for electricity is currently set as the same price as that paid by the person reselling it. Under these circumstances, the Government expects landlords to pass on the discount received to each tenant.
  • Landlords with a domestic electricity connection who charge ‘all inclusive’ rent, often the case for many student houses, where a fixed cost for energy costs are included in their rental charges, must pass on the discounted payments to tenants.
  • Approximately one per cent of UK households are currently ineligible to receive Energy Bills discount as they do not have a domestic electricity meter and a direct relationship with an electricity supplier. The government has confirmed that further funding will be available to provide equivalent support of £400 for energy bills for the 1% of households who will not be reached through the Energy Bills discount. An announcement with details on how and when these households across Great Britain can access this support will be made this Autumn.

The Energy Bills Support Scheme forms part of the Government’s £37 million Cost of Living Support package, providing Help for Households with rising prices, targeted at those most in need.

Commons committee backs urgent action on fuel poverty

The Government should immediately update its package of support to help households with soaring energy bills before the cost-of-living crisis grips even harder following October’s energy price cap increase, according to a new report by the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. 

The report argues that the Government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme will not be enough given the continued rising energy prices households will face. MPs warn that the size of the package has been ‘eclipsed by the scale of the crisis.’ 

Committee Chair Darren Jones MP said:

Once again, the energy crisis is racing ahead of the Government. To prevent millions from dropping into unmanageable debt it’s imperative that the support package is updated and implemented before October, when the squeeze will become a full-on throttling of household finances and further tip the economy towards recession.

We were told by a number of witnesses, ‘if you think things are bad now, you’ve not seen anything yet’. This Winter is going to be extremely difficult for family finances and it’s therefore critical that public funds are better targeted to those who need it the most.

It’s an injustice that the poorest households continue to pay higher energy costs because they’re on prepayment meters. This must end and a social tariff should be brought forward.

Ultimately, Ministers know that the long-term solution is to reduce our need for energy through insulation works that keep our homes warm in winter and cool in summer. If the Government is really taking this energy crisis and the country’s net zero targets seriously it will come forward with a bold, fully funded, national home insulation program before the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition said:

MPs are right. The crisis facing millions of homes as energy bills continue to soar is ‘ongoing and severe’.

The energy bills crisis this winter is a nightmare scenario, but the Government is sleepwalking into it.

Tory leadership hopefuls and Ministers need to wake up and announce urgent financial support to offset the predicted price rises this winter and further help vulnerable homes stay warm this winter.

But financial support will only be a stop gap solution.

We also need to see a rapid roll-out of support to make homes and community buildings more energy efficient, a full review of the consumer energy market and action to bring cheap renewable energy on stream as fast as possible.

A spokesperson for National Energy Action added:

Energy prices continue to spiral, and vulnerable households in the energy market are being hardest hit. It is vital that the plans from the UK Government and Ofgem are scrutinised by Parliament, and they act on this credible set of recommendations to help the poorest households through the energy crisis, this winter and beyond.

The next Prime Minister will need to implement these recommendations urgently, topping up the current energy support, announced in May, to offset the October increases. We also agree with the cross-party recommendation to introduce a social tariff to give fuel-poor households deep, enduring protection against persistent high energy prices, and putting in place a new scheme to help households that have accrued a mountain of debt during the crisis. The regulator must also not duck its role in reducing the growing burden of standing charges that are hitting struggling households the most. Overall, it is critical to ensure that pre-payment meter customers do not pay more for their energy and are not punished further as a result of finding their bills already unaffordable.

Finally, the winner of the leadership contest must ensure that reducing the wasted energy in our homes becomes a much more prominent part of the policy response. Improving energy efficiency should be top of their agenda as it will help ease future price spikes now and in the future.

Tory leadership hopefuls face fuel poverty crisis in constituencies

New estimates, first reported in the i Paper, have revealed the impact of the energy bills crisis on the constituents of the Tory leadership contenders.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has calculated that almost 60,000 households will be in fuel poverty in these four seats alone from 1 October 2022 based on current energy price cap estimates. 

Across England, the estimated total is around 7.7m households likely to face fuel poverty this winter (32%).

Across the four constituencies, residents of Liz Truss’ seat in South West Norfolk will be hit the hardest with almost 40% of homes plunged into fuel poverty – even after taking into account the current levels of support promised by the previous Chancellor.

In Rishi Sunak’s own seat, more than a third (37%) of households will be in fuel poverty this coming winter.

Without urgent action from the next Prime Minister, 28% of households in Kemi Badenoch’s seat and 26% of people in Penny Mordaunt’s constituency will also face fuel poverty.

Last week, a new campaign group was formed by some of Britain’s biggest charities, calling for the leadership contenders to promise urgent action to help people through the cost of living crisis.

The group wrote to all MPs standing in the contest to ask them to pledge to:

  • Provide financial support to people who without urgent action will be on the front-line of poverty this winter
  • Upgrade and insulate homes across the UK to bring down bills and prevent energy waste
  • Rapidly expand clean energy, which is now four times cheaper than gas, to urgently lower energy bills
  • Stop drilling new oil and gas fields so that we can escape our dependence on volatile fossil fuels.

None of the candidates have responded to the letters as yet (Tue 19 July 0700). 

Paul Dixon, Rural Evidence Manager for Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) said: 

This is a wake-up call for the Conservative leadership candidates and a reminder that fuel poverty is as much a problem in rural constituencies as it is in urban areas. The new Prime Minister must prioritise this issue and take decisive action to make sure everyone stays warm this winter.   

Ruth London from Fuel Poverty Action added: 

These demands are simple and urgent and there’s plenty of money available – including the millions of pounds being used to subsidise fossil fuel profiteers.  How can any of these candidates claim that saving lives is a priority for them, when they haven’t pledged action or even responded to this urgent letter?

Ian Preston, Director of Household Energy Services at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, commented:

We need to literally insulate people from the impact of future energy price increases! If we insulate our homes and buildings well, they’ll become more energy-efficient and it saves people money so they can buy other essential items. But more than this it also helps with our energy security by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

The figures show that drastically rising levels of fuel poverty are an issue right across the country, from the inner cities to our rural areas. Even in warmer weather, fuel poverty is a huge issue and this winter it will become devastating for millions.

Candidates in the leadership race have started to acknowledge the issue, but none have yet grasped the scale of the problem and the full range of actions needed to help people this winter.

Without a co-ordinated plan to end fuel poverty, one of the first acts of the new Prime Minister will be to preside over a miserable and dangerous winter for millions of households.

Tessa Khan, director of Uplift said:

What actions will they, as Prime Minister, take to help people through this winter and permanently lower energy bills? This is what people are interested in, not this parade.

Despite this, we’ve heard virtually nothing from the candidates on their plans to fix our broken energy system, whether that’s support for upgrading the efficiency of homes, which is the cheapest, quickest way of reducing bills, or what they will do to accelerate renewables, which is now the cheapest source of energy. Proposals to expand oil and gas, or fracking, are for the birds with high gas prices predicted to stay until the end of the decade.

With winter less than 3 months away, the candidates for PM need to set out credible plans now for what they will do to help people stay warm this winter and in winters to come, because bills won’t come down otherwise. Unaffordable heating bills will be a stark reality for millions for years and it demands a coherent, practical response now.”

Methodology used to calculate the statistics can be read here.

How fuel poverty is still an issue during the summer

The majority of campaigning on fuel poverty is done in light of the excess winter deaths and wider health problems living in cold homes causes.

But fuel poverty also affects people in warmer weather.

As Dr Harriet Thomson, a Senior Lecturer in Global Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Birmingham, writes:

[…] the effects of the heatwave are predicted to be so severe and/or prolonged that they will extend outside the health and social care system. In other words, the extreme heat could cause illness and death, including among those with no pre-existing illnesses.

Indeed, during the last major UK heatwave, the NHS was at crisis point and during the same year, in Japan more than 130 people died and 70,000 were rushed to hospitals; while in Quebec, the heat claimed the lives of 90.

And the situation could get worse with the Met Office predicting heatwaves will become more regular and more intense in the UK.

As the Big Issue reports, it will be the vulnerable who are most at risk from high temperatures.

Traditionally, people would turn to fans and air-conditioners to help keep themselves and their families cool, but the World Economic Forum predicts that using air-conditioners increases energy bills by 42% and warns:

As temperatures increase around the world, cooling is emerging as a new, basic need – even in countries that traditionally have not previously required such appliances.

But the solutions to summer fuel poverty are similar to cold weather fuel poverty. While good insulation of housing helps reduce the need for heating systems, so it can also reduce the need for cooling systems too.

As Dr. Thomson explains:

We know that housing plays a huge role in mitigating the risks of excessive indoor warmth.

Our  research within Eastern and Central European countries found that overheating was most common in districts dominated by large apartment blocks, particularly if the building lacked cooling features such as shutters and tiled floors, natural shading from trees, and the ability to cross-ventilate.

At the Centre for Sustainable Energy, experts have provided easy (and cheap!) advice on how to keep your home cool, but as Ian Preston from the CSE adds:

A well-insulated and ventilated home will actually help with keeping the heat out too. If you’re able to invest in insulation do so, just make sure ventilation is considered at the same time.

As Greenpeace UK’s energy campaigner, Georgia Whitaker, argues investing in a nationwide programme to green our homes will not only help us cope better when temperatures soar but also help bring down energy bills, tackle the cost of living crisis and slash carbon emissions to help tackle climate change, which is the driving force behind the increasing numbers of heatwaves we’re experiencing:

The number one thing the government should be doing to beat the heat is insulating houses. Insulation keeps homes cool in the summer, warm in the winter and means people use less energy because less of it is wasted through draughty windows, walls and roofs.

Leading charities urge PM-hopefuls to end fuel poverty

Warm This Winter, a new national coalition group, has published an open letter in The Times to all candidates in the race to become the next Prime Minister asking that they urgently set out how they plan to address the cost of living crisis driven by soaring energy bills.

The letter calls on each of the candidates to use these next precious few weeks to set out practical measures for how they will help people now, and how they will ensure we have lower energy bills in future. 

The campaign, which is backed by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, is pushing for practical solutions that have the public’s support, and which are ready-to-roll out now, including:

    • Providing financial support to people who without urgent action will be on the front-line of poverty this winter
    • Upgrading and insulating homes across the UK to bring down bills and prevent energy waste
    • Rapidly expanding clean energy, which is now four times cheaper than gas, to urgently lower energy bills
    • Stopping drilling new oil and gas fields so that we can escape our dependence on volatile fossil fuels.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

Based on current estimates, well in excess of a third of all homes will be in fuel poverty this winter, yet the candidates to be our next Prime Minister are ignoring the single most pressing issue facing families across the country.

Unless leadership candidates promise bold and decisive action, the next Prime Minister’s first act as leader will be to preside over the worst winter for millions of people in living memory.

Full letter to candidates

We are writing to you from Warm This Winter – a new national coalition representing 40 organisations and over 22 million people from across the UK during this time of national economic crisis – to ask what your plan would be as Prime Minister to address the cost of living crisis.

We are headed into a potentially catastrophic winter. In eleven weeks time, more than a third of households – many millions of British families –  may not be able to afford to heat their homes. Meanwhile, earlier this year, 2.3 million families on low income were going without enough food and were unable to keep their homes warm. 

According to the latest predictions, from October 1st the average annual energy bill will be over £3200. That means, for example, that the average pensioner will spend more than a third of their state pension on heating their home – and many people, including families, will have to choose between heating and eating. In the words of Martin Lewis last week: “millions of households will be forced into poverty unless we act. This is a genuine, urgent emergency.”

So far in the Conservative leadership campaign, no candidate has put forward a credible plan to support families, businesses, village and community halls, places of worship, hospitals and schools to keep their buildings warm this winter. Indeed whilst the public has grasped the scale and seriousness of the crisis heading our way, none of the leadership candidates seems to have done so.

We believe that in these next precious few weeks – when the Government should be planning and preparing for this winter – you should set out your plan for tackling the crisis of unaffordable energy bills, which are set to remain high until at least 2025. We know that this emergency, fuelled by the spiralling price of gas and by the war in Ukraine, does have solutions that are ready-to-roll out now – and that would also help us protect the future of the natural world – these include:

  • Providing financial support to people who without urgent action will be on the front-line of poverty this winter
  • Upgrading and insulating homes across the UK to bring down bills and prevent energy waste
  • Rapidly expanding clean energy, which is now four times cheaper than gas, to urgently lower energy bills
  • Moving away from drilling new oil and gas fields so that we can escape our dependence on volatile fossil fuels

Our members and supporters want to know what your plan would be – so we can have a proper debate on the most important and urgent issue facing this country. Whilst we may not all have a say in who becomes the next Prime Minister, we can ask that any candidate has a practical plan to keep people safe and warm this winter. 

We would be keen to meet with you to discuss this further.

Full list of signatories:

  1. End Fuel Poverty Coalition
  2. The Climate Coalition
  3. CPRE The countryside charity 
  4. Wildlife & Countryside Link
  5. Save the Children
  6. WWF UK
  7. The Wildlife Trusts
  8. Oxfam
  9. Fuel Poverty Action
  10. Fair Energy Campaign
  11. Robin Hood Tax
  12. The Centre for Sustainable Energy
  13. Energy Action Scotland
  14. Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
  15. Possible
  16. Ashden
  17. Austerity Action Group part of Social Workers Union
  18. New Economics Foundation
  19. Uplift
  20. Camden Federation of Private Tenants
  21. Regen
  22. Northern Housing Consortium
  23. Groundwork
  24. Advice for Renters
  25. Fairer Housing
  26. Friends of the Earth Scotland
  27. MCS Charitable Foundation
  28. Fairness Foundation
  29. Tax Justice UK
  30. Women’s Budget Group
  31. The Economic Change Unit 
  32. Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland
  33. IPPR
  34. Chartered Institute of Housing
  35. The Centre for Ageing Better
  36. The Working Class Economists Group
  37. Greenpeace UK 
  38. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  39. 38 Degrees
  40. Action with Communities in Rural England
  41. %0

Business groups call for action on fuel poverty

Leading business groups, including the Advertising Association, Business In The Community, Food and Drink Federation, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and RenewableUK, have urged Conservative Party leadership candidates to support the millions of people facing fuel poverty.

In an open letter, the groups also call on the next Prime Minister to implement manifesto commitments on net zero and nature restoration.

The letter states:

In today’s challenging context, an accelerated rollout of low cost, clean energy, energy efficiency, and industrial decarbonisation is vital to protect the UK from the volatile global fuel prices underpinning the ongoing energy crisis.

This is an urgent priority as skyrocketing energy bills inflict considerable costs on businesses and push ever more households into fuel poverty.

Eliot Whittington, Director, UK Corporate Leaders Group said:

The Conservative Party has a significant track record of climate leadership. Their new leader will have a choice between building on this track record and delivering for the UK economy and society or abandoning it and condemning the country to fall behind on the energy transition and face unnecessary costs and risks.

Forward looking businesses want more, not less, ambition on climate action, especially as we see the ramifications of volatile fossil fuel supply chains ramping up the cost-of-living crisis and reducing regional energy security.

The next Prime Minister must centre climate policy and continue delivery of net zero and regenerating the UK’s nature.

Julie Hirigoyen, CEO, UK Green Building Council said: 

As prices soar businesses are looking for the next Prime Minister to deliver on the UK’s legal climate commitments, not ditch them.

Tackling the climate and cost of living crises are two sides of the same coin. Insulating our homes and businesses will bring bills down, bolster energy security and help achieve net zero carbon, whilst giving a real boost to the economy and industry.

Sandy Begbie CBE, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Financial Enterprise said:

Whoever succeeds Mr Johnson as Prime Minister will face significant challenges, particularly tackling the cost of living crisis, accelerating economic recovery and addressing the pressing climate emergency.

New Prime Minister must make ending fuel poverty a priority

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has laid down a challenge to the candidates for the Conservative Party Leadership Contest to confirm they will tackle fuel poverty if they become Prime Minister.

At the heart of the pledges the Coalition is asking candidates to make, is for them to fully commit to spending the full amount promised by the Conservative Manifesto for energy efficiency during this Parliament.

Candidates will be asked to support the following measures:

  1. Urgently address the operational issues with the package of support announced by the previous Chancellor in May 2022.
  2. Commit to further, short-term, financial support for people in fuel poverty this winter and to mitigate any further increases in the price cap over and above the £2,800 predicted by Ofgem in May 2022.
  3. Co-ordinated action to rapidly improve the energy efficiency of our homes, fulfilling 2019 Conservative Manifesto commitments and including a skills strategy to ensure work is delivered to the highest standards.
  4. Announce a review and subsequent reform of the energy supply market to consider the introduction of policies such as a social tariff, energy for all allowance and a total price cap ceiling.
  5. Work with energy firms to ensure the country has a secure, renewable-led, domestic energy supply.

The Coalition will write to MPs as they declare their candidacy and will publish responses received.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Coalition commented:

The next Prime Minister could leave a legacy of setting the country on the path to ending fuel poverty.

But solving the public health and social inequality challenges caused by rocketing energy bills will require a full package of support to those in fuel poverty now – as well as measures to ensure no more households become fuel poor this winter.

At the heart of candidates’ policy proposals must be a commitment to implement their party’s 2019 Manifesto promises on household energy efficiency in full.

Energy Company Obligation rules set out by Government

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has welcomed news that the Government has laid down the regulations for the new “Energy Company Obligation” Scheme to help improve the energy efficiency of peoples homes.

The scheme, known as ECO4, will last until 2026 and will help insulate homes, reducing energy bills. To access the fund, households will need to speak to their energy supplier or social housing landlord.

A spokesperson for the Coalition commented:

It’s welcome that the necessary legislation is finally being laid, but it is absolutely vital that we get swift passage of the regulations before the summer and with cross-party support to ensure no more bumps in the road.

We would also encourage BEIS and Ofgem to continue to work with installers and energy companies to keep up the number of retrofits carried out this summer before further price hikes kick in, and take other steps to ensure effective and smooth delivery (such as tackling supply chain and skills shortage challenges).

There are still some areas where the scheme could be improved, for example in ensuring more advice can be provided and that there is more support for the lowest income households so that those who can make household contributions do not receive overly preferential treatment.

Customers will also need more support if their boilers breakdown. There is a massive reduction in the allowance for this in ECO4, and no good alternative process for emergency (keeping in mind that a heat pump install will take longer could leave households without heating for a longer period in winter).

Finally, given the scale of the current cost of living crisis, more support will be needed to help a wider number of households reduce their energy bills permanently through energy saving measures such as insulation and heat pumps.

We encourage the government to boost existing schemes with new public spending commitments in the forthcoming Autumn Budget.