£3,000 energy bill could leave 8.5 million UK households in fuel poverty 

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has issued a warning today that the energy crisis could leave 8.5 million UK households unable to heat and power their homes.

The group, which represents over 50 organisations, claims that cold homes cost lives and that more frail and older people could die next winter without further action from the Chancellor in his Economic Statement in March.

The campaigners are pleading with the Government to cut bills for the most vulnerable households comes as wholesale prices soar due to Russian invasion of Ukraine – with stark predictions that energy bills across Great Britain could increase to £3,000 per annum. 

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA), commented: 

When energy bills hit £2,000 a year there will be over 6 million UK households in fuel poverty.

Analysts suggest the war in Ukraine could drive average bills to £3,000 per year.

This could leave 8.5 million UK households in fuel poverty, denied a warm safe home.

This is a disaster and inevitably, will lead to more needless winter deaths.

Government must address the scale of the problem and use the upcoming Economic Statement in March to cut energy bills much further for the poorest. It must act now, to protect the most vulnerable, and to save lives.

Age UK, the leading charity for older people, highlight how cold homes threaten the frailest in society and the crisis should prompt a re-think about the adequacy of the UK Government’s support package for those on the lowest incomes.

Age UK’s Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, comments:  

Energy price rises have pushed older people’s budgets to breaking point, with many going without heating for weeks over the winter. The impact on their health and wellbeing is likely to be devastating, just as it seemed we and the NHS were getting some respite after two years of a pandemic.

The support the Government have announced is nowhere near enough. How are those on the lowest incomes, who already struggle to afford the essentials, going to find an extra £350 to cover their energy bills, on top of all the other increases in the cost of living?

We are really concerned about those using prepayment meters – typically a more expensive way to pay for your energy – and how many will ration and disconnect from their supply.

With further increases expected in the autumn, and uncertainty intensified by the invasion of Ukraine, the Chancellor must do more to help and ensure that those on low and modest incomes can afford to stay warm without worrying sick about their bills.

 The charities say the impacts of cold homes on the most vulnerable people are well known to the UK Government but without more support, the situation will prompt more needless deaths next winter. 

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, concluded: 

Ending fuel poverty is a public health necessity and a national security priority. Based on World Health Organisation modelling, an estimated 80 frail and elderly people die prematurely every day across the UK each winter.

Unless more support can be provided, the scale of these tragic needless deaths will grow and cause even further devastation to other poorer households.

We need urgent help for households in fuel poverty now combined with a long-term plan to improve energy efficiency of our homes and a sustainable, renewable-led, energy mix.

Notes to editors

Alongside similar unprecedented increases in Northern Ireland, the GB price cap is now being raised from 1st April, a jump of an additional £700 per year to leave the ‘average’ domestic energy bills at £2000, leaving a further 2 million households in fuel poverty. Due to reductions in household incomes, surging energy prices and relatively modest improvements in energy efficiency levels, charities estimate that the number of households in fuel poverty across the UK will increase to 6.3-6.5 million households in total in April, an increase of more than 50% in just over six months. This projection is based on the 10% definition of fuel poverty which gives a realistic picture of the scale of fuel poverty in periods of more volatile energy prices. On 24th February Investec Bank Ltd estimated the price cap on energy prices could spike another 50% in October to more than £3,000 per household following huge gains in the wholesale natural gas and electricity markets.  

Last month the UK Government released new fuel poverty statistics. These statistics do not capture the recently announced huge hikes in energy bills. However despite a long lag in the Government data for England; these new statistics highlighted a lack of progress to meet the UK Government’s statutory fuel poverty commitments with warnings it will take over 60 years for the Government to meet its statutory fuel poverty commitments. 

As well as addressing the worrying lack of sufficient emergency support for the energy crisis, the charities highlight in 2019 the Conservative party manifesto made a welcome commitment to help lower energy bills by investing £9.2bn in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals in England, including £2.5bn for the Home Upgrade Grant Scheme (HUG). HUG is vital as it targets low-income households in the least efficient, private tenure homes which are the most expensive to heat. But to date, less than half of the Government’s 2019 manifesto pledge has been committed. The UK Government also consulted last summer on welcome plans to extend and expand the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), Warm Home Discount (WHD) and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). They say these proposals were warmly welcomed by key stakeholders, but there has now been a long delay to implement these policies and further hiatus will continue to badly damage the health, wealth and well-being of the poorest households.    

Last winter Public Health England (PHE) warned there is a damaging overlap between the health impacts of living in a cold home and Covid-19. Pre-existing chronic medical conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and heart disease are also particularly badly affected by a cold home.  

Overall the Coalition and NEA estimate that based on a five year average, between 8000 to 10,000 people across the United Kingdom die prematurely during the winter due to the impact of cold homes. This is based on World Health Organisation modelling that at least 30% of Excess Winter Deaths are attributable to a cold home.

Image: Shutterstock

Global demand to end fossil fuel addiction feeding Putin’s war machine

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has joined hundreds of organisations from dozens of countries in expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people in a collective call on world governments to end fossil fuel production.

The current crisis sees Putin weaponising oil and gas money to threaten livelihoods and fuel terror with escalating violence, underscoring the fossil fuel system’s role in driving conflict.

This war is a fight for Ukrainians’ own freedom, but more broadly, a fight for self-determination worldwide.

The letter — initiated by a dozen Ukrainian climate organisations — recognises that this war is a “grave violation of human rights, international law and global peace” fuelled by the oil and gas money that powers Putin’s war machine.

40% of Russia’s federal budget comes from oil and gas, which also make up 60% of Russia’s exports.

The letter urges governments to use all nonviolent means necessary to stop Putin and his war machine, restore peace, and end this egregious murderous aggression.

Governments must work together to manage transition to a clean and safe renewable energy in a way that is fast and fair.

This also means stopping all trade and ending investment in Gazprom, Rosneft, Transneft, Surgutneftegas, LukOil, Russian Coal and others, seeing a cease to all financial services for Russian energy companies operating in the coal, oil and gas sectors.

Commenting on the crisis, a spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said:

The invasion of Ukraine is an obscene act of terror by the Russian state.

Our Members have been warning for years that fuel poverty is a social justice crisis, a public health emergency and a national security priority, but the UK Government took little action.

And the solution to fuel poverty does not lie in fossil fuels.

We now need urgent help for households in fuel poverty now combined with a long-term plan to improve energy efficiency of our homes and a sustainable, renewable-led, energy mix.

While any further rises to already sky high energy bills are a huge concern to the millions of people facing fuel poverty, any attempts to push all the responsibility for the energy bills crisis onto the Russian invasion does not give the whole picture.

Any pain which is suffered by the British public as a result of increased energy prices is a political decision by the UK Government.

The Government has talked about this for long enough, but fails to match words with action – the Chancellor’s attempt to provide support for people through a “loans dressed up as grants” scheme is a prime example of this.

Historic government data doesn’t show true fuel poverty picture

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented on the latest release of historic fuel poverty data by the Government and its estimates of the levels of fuel poverty today:

Today’s 2020 historic fuel poverty data shows just how significant the Government’s failure to tackle fuel poverty has been.
The impact of measures taken pre-pandemic has barely shifted the dial – and we know very little has been done since 2020 to change the picture.
Indeed, the situation has become much, much worse.
Estimates from charities working in fuel poverty consistently predict that more than 6m households in England are now in fuel poverty – due in part to the energy bills crisis.
We need urgent help for households in fuel poverty now combined with a long-term plan to improve energy efficiency of our homes and a sustainable, renewable-led, energy mix.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s latest estimate is that 6.3m households (26.7%) in England will be in fuel poverty from 1 April 2022 as a result of recent price increases.

A briefing from National Energy Action sets out the background to the discrepancies between official data projections and the reality of fuel stress and energy poverty on the ground, while the charity’s analysis suggests the Government is 60 years behind its target to end fuel poverty.

Image: Shutterstock

Coalition reacts to “sky-rocketing” energy prices and “woeful” Government response

Members of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition have been reacting to news of the latest energy price hikes and subsequent Government efforts to partially offset the consequences.

The latest estimates from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition predict that 6.3m households are expected to be in fuel poverty from 1 April 2022 – an increase of 2.1m on previous estimates which took account of the last Ofgem price rise in October 2021.

In addition, a group of civil society organisations have issued a united call for the Government to take further immediate action and a national protest is due to take place in London on Saturday.

Tamara Sandoul, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health:

This has already been a difficult Winter for many households across the UK, with a cocktail effect of higher inflation and higher energy prices. This huge rise in the cost of energy will push many more people into fuel poverty and could put them at risk of health conditions caused by living in a cold home.

The Government also needs a long-term investment strategy into retrofitting homes to make these much more energy efficient and work to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels going forward.

William Baker from Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty:

This announcement couldn’t come at a worse time. It coincides with a substantial increase to National Insurance, will inevitably exacerbate the cost of living crisis many low income households are facing and will increase reliance on food banks and fuel vouchers – already at record levels. We need a comprehensive package of Government support to both address high energy prices and improve the energy efficiency standards of our homes.

Connor Schwartz, climate lead at Friends of the Earth:

The skyrocketing price of gas will now push people into precarious financial positions, and spells disaster for those already struggling to meet the rising cost of heating their home. The government must ensure sufficient support for anyone already finding it hard, or who are at imminent risk, from these hikes.

We need to address the root cause and that means ending the cause of the crisis: reliance on gas. No mistake, this will be a year-on-year problem unless the government is radical now. The best time to invest in renewables and roll out a huge home insulation programme was 20 years ago, governments didn’t do it then, the next best time is right now.

 Mike Thornton, chief executive, Energy Saving Trust:

We know the additional increase to the energy price cap, alongside higher living costs, will be extremely worrying for people across Britain. With the number of households who find themselves in fuel poverty expected to rise, Government must expand on emergency measures to support those most in need.

As well as the need for immediate action and short-term support, the current crisis emphasises the importance of improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock in the long-term. Alongside this, we need to invest significantly in renewable energy – including low carbon heating.  Energy efficiency and more renewables are the best ways to protect everybody against volatile gas prices and rising bills in the long-term.

Tackling the current energy crisis must also go hand in hand with meeting net zero ambitions. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will minimise our exposure to the volatility of the global energy market and shape a greener and more affordable energy future. Alongside many other mission-led organisations, we’re asking for committed Government investment and clear action plans to scale up home insulation and renewable energy so we can be less reliant on gas in the future.

Fuel Poverty Action co-director Ruth London:

The energy market as it stands is not fit for purpose – it does not give people the energy they need to keep healthy, or the security to plan for the future in difficult times.

We’re asking that the government to introduce “Energy for All” – a universal, free amount of energy to cover people’s basic costs like heating, cooking, and lighting.

This would give us all the security we need, taking account of people’s actual needs according to their age, health, and housing.

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of National Energy Action (NEA): 

These energy crisis measures are woefully inadequate and will leave those on the lowest incomes and in the least efficient homes in deep peril. 

Government had an exam question: How to protect the most vulnerable from a devastating rise in the cost of energy? While their plans are not without merit, they fail this test by turning away from targeted measures to help the poorest energy consumers. 

We needed deep, targeted support for the most vulnerable. We have shallow, broad measures for all. That simply does not work.

The depth of support is not proportionate to the increases. A household paying by prepayment will still have a £500 increase when you take into account rises from October 2021 and April 2022. 

The rebates on Bills and Council tax are not sufficiently targeted, too small and too complex.

We expect the government will have no choice but to return to the issue of spiralling fuel poverty and another price rise later this year. By then they’ll be playing catch-up and great harm will already have been done.

Ian Preston, director of household energy at the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE):

People are frightened of getting into debt. Someone we support on our advice line contacted us this morning to say they wouldn’t be able to put the heating on anymore. This is going to be the case for millions of people across the country.

We’ve calculated that this energy price increase each month is about the same as a low-income household would spend on groceries in a week. So to pay for the increase is essentially the same as asking them to go without food for a week every month.

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 – there’s a range of measures available for different budgets and we can support people with finding grants.

Members also took to Twitter to express their concerns:

Catastrophic rise in energy prices will not be offset by Government plans

Over 1m more homes in England could be forced into fuel poverty following the latest Government energy cap price rise, despite Government plans announced today.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition predictions come as Ofgem confirmed that the average cost of heating a home will rise from GBP1,277 a year to GBP1,971 – a 54% increase.

The Government has pledged a series of measures to try and support homes in fuel poverty, but campaigners have warned these do not go far enough to offset the rises in energy prices over the last few years. The Chancellor claimed this would be worth GBP350. However, much of this will be repaid through a “heat now, pay later” scheme.

Even taking into account the Government’s promised support, the latest price cap rise will still be 27% – the biggest rise since records began.

It is estimated by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition that this will plunge an additional 1.1m homes into fuel poverty, taking the total now in fuel poverty to 22% of all households in England (c.12.5m people). The final total may be higher due and closer to 26% of all households, due to the “heat now, pay later” nature of Government support.

Since it was introduced in 2017, energy bills have risen 52%, with rises of almost GBP600 (GBP578) being passed onto consumers in the last year alone.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

Today’s catastrophic price cap rise will force hundreds of thousands more households into fuel poverty from April.

The Government’s proposals for support will do little but offset or defer part of the most recent rise.

The reality is that fuel poverty has been increasing at an exponential rate and only a full package to support people – especially the most vulnerable – will be sufficient in the short term.

Longer term, the Government must come good on its promises to help transform housing into safe, warm, energy efficient homes.

Juliet Phillips, Senior Policy Advisor at E3G:

The UK’s exposure to volatile gas markets is fuelling a cost-of-living crisis. While today’s announcements take some edge off the burn, further targeted support for the most vulnerable households is urgently needed to prevent catastrophic outcomes.

Furthermore, without a long-term plan to reduce demand for fossil gas, emergency measures can only act as a sticking plaster. We must also start now towards building a greener, fairer and resilient system as the only long-term solution for preventing future gas crises.

Reaction from other members of the Coalition will follow.

Image: Michael JP / Shutterstock

Coalition responds to Government heat now, pay later plans

Reports in the media today suggest that the Government is bringing forward the Ofgem price cap announcement to tomorrow.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented on today’s developments:

Today’s media reports will do very little to alleviate the concerns of people across the country, especially the poorest households.

Rumours of a “heat now, pay later” scheme will do nothing to help vulnerable people living in fuel poverty. Tomorrow’s Ofgem price cap announcement, which will be somewhere between devastating and catastrophic for millions of people across the country, could very quickly wipe out any support these loans can provide.

The devil will be in the detail of what the Government has cooked up, but unless there is sufficient support for the most vulnerable people, they won’t be able to disguise the reality of  millions more people being forced into fuel poverty. 

Reaction to tomorrow’s announcement will be available as soon as possible.

Eight million older people worried about heating their home

More than three in five over-65s (62 per cent) – equivalent to 7.8 million older people – are worried about heating their homes compared to 43 per cent just six weeks ago, according to new research for Age UK.

Ahead of the widely anticipated price cap announcement from Ofgem next month, the new poll shows a sharp rise in concern over energy bills.

Over half (52 per cent) of over-65s – 6.5 million older people – are worried about their energy bills now compared to just under a third (31 per cent) last month, and nearly half (45 per cent) – 5.6 million over-65s – are worried about having to reduce energy use due to financial concerns compared to under a third (30 per cent) in December.

Additionally, 82 per cent – equivalent to over 10 million over-65s – think the Government should step in to help poorer older people pay their energy bills.

The high levels of concern are reflected in a surge of support for the Charity this month, with over 50,000 people adding their names to a letter to the Prime Minister in the past week, urging him to act now to protect older people from unaffordable energy bills.

The Charity is warning that many older people are already feeling the impact of the rising cost of living, with basic household bills fast becoming unaffordable for many pensioners living on a low fixed income – many of whom have few, if any, savings to fall back on.

Age UK has been flooded with stories from thousands of older people who are already struggling and cutting back on heating, food and other essentials. People such as Carol who is 78 and says, “I simply cannot cope with even higher bills”, or Denise who says, “This is so scary.”

Financial support for older people during the colder months has remained broadly unchanged for years and is nowhere near enough to match the scale of the current problem.

In its letter to the Government, Age UK echoed concerns of other members of the Coalition and urged Ministers to announce a financial package to support vulnerable older people through this crisis.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:

The number of older people who are worried about being able to heat their homes is staggering and should be a source of shame for this Government. Millions of older people across the UK are absolutely dreading the imminent price cap announcement and urgently need reassurance that help is on its way so they can keep their heating on. This is a national crisis which needs a swift and decisive response from Ministers.

Every single day we are hearing heart-breaking stories from desperate older people who are being forced to choose between heating and eating. This isn’t a looming crisis, it’s already upon us – and while the Government is dithering, millions of older people are suffering and putting their health at risk because they can’t afford to keep warm. It is an absolute scandal and one that requires urgent government action.

Energy price rises on the scale we are now seeing are unprecedented and the Government’s response must be equal to the threat they pose to older people, many of whom are vulnerable and struggling to afford exorbitant bills on a meagre state pension.

Anyone who is interested in adding their name to the Charity’s open letter to the Prime Minister can do so by visiting: bit.ly/ageuk-energy. Sources for the press release are available from the Age UK website as well.

Massive increase in children experiencing fuel poverty revealed

An exclusive report in the i Paper has revealed the numbers of children living in fuel poverty.

The report, based on Coalition calculations, shows that 2.2m households with dependent children will be in fuel poverty from 1 April. This is a 74% increase since 2019.

There are 6.6m households with dependent children in England, so this means a third of those households are facing – or already in – fuel poverty. Previous calculations have suggested that roughly a quarter of all households will face fuel poverty, so homes with children are more badly impacted than the national average.
A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:
With millions of families already in fuel poverty and experiencing the toughest winter on record financially, the figures in the i Paper make for grim reading.
That so many parents are having to make the choice between keeping the heating on and feeding their kids is heartbreaking. Living in cold homes is not just bad for your health, but can also impact on mental performance, meaning this fuel poverty crisis could be affecting children’s education and development.
Fuel poverty is a health and social crisis, but can only be solved by financial and technical solutions. We need urgent Government action to help those most in need now alongside consistent investment and support for energy efficiency measures.

Charities unite in call for funding to tackle energy bill crisis

An alliance of 27 major charities have today written to the Prime Minister and Chancellor, calling for urgent action to tackle the energy bill crisis, including boosting insulation funding.

The charities, which include Save the Children, Age UK, WWF, Green Alliance, Faith for the Climate, Tearfund and Greenpeace, are calling for emergency funding to support the most vulnerable and for insulation and clean energy funding to be increased to help wean the UK off expensive gas.

Without urgent government action the energy price cap could be increased by £600 in April, driven by the surging price of gas on the international markets, taking an average energy bill to around £2000.

The charities estimate that fuel poverty could increase by 50%, from 4 to 6 million households across the UK. There are fears this will lead to households choosing between heating and eating, an increase in the number of people dying in cold homes and a greater burden on the NHS, when it is already under great strain.

The charities remind the Prime Minister that a cut in support for making homes energy efficient after the last surge in energy bills in 2013 left households far more vulnerable to surging gas prices.

As a result of the Energy Company Obligation levy being cut in half and the Warm Front programme for the fuel poor being abolished, millions of British homes have not been insulated.  The cuts led to a 90% cut in loft and cavity wall insulation measures and half of those in the insulation industry lost their jobs. The charities warn that insulation rates have still not recovered and the same mistake must not be made today.

Juliet Phillips of the climate change think tank E3G said:

The Energy Company Obligation is the biggest programme the government has to insulate the homes of the fuel poor. Any damage to this levy would make these households more dependent upon gas, entrenching the crisis further.

Improving the efficiency of the worst performing UK homes could provide bill savings of over £500 every year per household upgraded, an aggregate saving of around £8bn

Investing in UK green energy and technologies like heat pumps would also help end the UK’s reliance on fossil gas. Renewables have helped to keep electricity prices from soaring as much as gas prices, as cheaper wind and solar cushion the increased expense of using gas to generate electricity.

The charities are also calling for emergency support for the most vulnerable, funded in part by a windfall tax on the fossil fuel industry, who are due to make profits up to ten times higher this financial year due to the surge in wholesale prices.

They are recommending expanding the Warm Homes Discount to ensure the majority of the expected rise in energy bills is covered for the most vulnerable households, for example those on universal credit and providing a one-off payment to those eligible for Cold Weather Payments.

The charities are also joining calls for legacy costs for renewables to be moved off power bills, to be paid for by the Exchequer instead, whilst leaving the Energy Company Obligation on the energy bill as a critical levy to help the fuel poor. They calculate that this would save households an additional £100 a year.

The charities also want the Government to fulfil its manifesto commitment to spend £6 billion on making homes more energy efficient. There is a £2 billion black hole in the funding committed after the Spending Review which they say must be filled, most of which was meant to go to the fuel poor.

Two thirds of households having no access in the UK to any insulation grant scheme. The charities want a new insulation grant programme set up to replace the failed Green Homes Grant which anyone can access.

The charities also call on the Government to ramp up the heat pump grant programme due to launch in April with ten times more funding, boosting it from £400m to a £4 billion programme, to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel boilers.

William Baker of Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty said:

The Energy Company Obligation is central to the Government’s legal duty to abolish fuel poverty by 2030. Scrapping the programme would show the Government does not take its statutory responsibilities seriously. It would condemn many fuel poor households to unaffordable fuel bills, ill health and in the worst cases death as a result of living in dangerously cold, unhealthy homes. The government must take urgent action to address the current crisis of rocketing fuel bills and expand its programmes to upgrade the insulation and heating systems of our notoriously leaky homes so that we are less dependent on volatile gas markets.

Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save the Children said:

The cost of living crisis, fuelled by soaring energy prices, is totally unsustainable and is hitting the lowest income families the hardest. Parents we work with tell us that they’re struggling to meet basic needs, leaving them having to make impossible choices between heating their homes and buying clothes for their children. And children are paying the price. Children deserve a fair and green future, and need a concrete plan from the UK Government that tackles both the cost-of-living and climate crises.

Dr Doug Parr, Policy Director at Greenpeace UK said:

The twin imperatives of a gas price crisis and the climate crisis mean we need to get off fossil fuels as fast as we can whilst protecting people on low incomes. That means we need to see short-term support for fuel poor families and long term support for energy efficiency and cheap renewables. A windfall tax on oil and gas companies would be a fair way to help finance the transition as we exit fossil fuel production in line with advice from leading experts at the International Energy Agency.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, which was also a signatory to the letter, commented:

After years of tireless campaigning by health, anti-poverty and environmental charities, trade unions and researchers, politicians are finally waking up to the tragedy of fuel poverty in the country.

Fuel poverty is a public health and social crisis but can only be solved by economic measures and the Government must do everything possible to help people in crisis now while investing in energy efficiency programmes to fix the long-term problems.

The full letter is available to read online.

Legal challenge against Government’s fuel poverty failings launched

A legal challenge against the “shocking” and “lacklustre” climate commitments by the Government has been launched by Coalition members, Friends of the Earth.

A Judicial Review, brought to the High Court by the environmental campaign group, will challenge both the government’s Net Zero Strategy (NZS) and its Heat and Buildings Strategy.

It will do so on the basis that the NZS does not comply with the Climate Change Act 2008, which Friends of the Earth was central to devising and securing. The group also contends that the Heat and Buildings Strategy should have considered the impacts of its policies on protected groups, as part of ensuring a fair energy transition where climate action aligns with social responsibility.

Factors such as age (both the elderly and the very young who will live with the greatest future climate impacts), sex, race, and disability can make people more vulnerable to climate impacts. This unaddressed inequality needs transparency and political accountability.

A refusal so far to disclose its equality impact assessment for the Net Zero Strategy has raised similar concerns.

The environmental group is concerned that people in these groups can be unfairly and disproportionately impacted by a badly planned transition to low carbon living. Yet the government has not identified and considered their specific needs as required by the Equality Act 2010.

With the number of households in fuel poverty in England soaring to record levels, Friends of the Earth previously found that people of colour are twice as likely to be living in fuel poverty as white people, while areas identified by the government as having a high number of residents with disabilities or other health needs are more likely to be rated in the worst category for fuel poverty.

The government did not consider these factors which is why the environment group is today taking legal action. The need for a fair and just transition away from reliance on damaging fossil fuels makes these collective legal failures all the more serious.

Katie de Kauwe, lawyer at Friends of the Earth, said:

With characteristic sleight of hand the government has set out an imaginary pathway for reducing carbon emissions but no credible plan to deliver it.

A rapid and fair transition to a safer future requires a plan that shows how much greenhouse gas reduction the chosen policies will achieve, and by when. That the plan for achieving net zero is published without this information in it is very worrying, and we believe is unlawful.

We know that those who do least to cause climate breakdown are too often the hardest hit. Climate action must be based on reversing these inequalities, by designing the transition with the most vulnerable in mind.

Not even considering the implications of the Heat and Building Strategy on groups such as older and disabled people, and people of colour and ethnic minorities is quite shocking, given these groups are disproportionately impacted by fuel poverty, for example.

Housing is a good example because people who need to consume the smallest amount of energy due to cost find themselves trapped in reliance on gas heating in cold, leaky homes. And now people across the country are facing an energy price crisis, with gas prices expected to double compared to just two years ago.

Friends of the Earth is represented in these proceedings by David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers and Catherine Dobson of 39 Essex Chambers, and by the law firm Leigh Day LLP.