Government urged to step up support for energy-efficient heating

Campaigners have called on the government to fully deliver on its election pledges to encourage cheaper, energy-efficient heating as the latest statistics on energy poverty in England are released

A campaign group against energy poverty is calling on the government to drastically step up measures to improve household energy efficiency as the country prepares for soaring heating costs.

The National Energy Action (NEA) group has warned that the planned rise in the energy price cap from April will lead to a significant increase in the cost of heating homes.

These costs must be met by increased investment and support for home insulation to reduce heating demand, the NEA argued.

The calls came following the publication this week of the government’s latest statistics on fuel poverty in England. These latest figures show the number of energy-poor households in 2020. Energy-poor households are defined in the statistics as people living in properties with an EPC rating of D or lower that also fall below the official poverty line once they have paid for their annual heating. bills.

Peter Smith, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the NEA, that recent statistics did not count the impact of higher energy costs on the price of heating which is expected to be introduced this year. These costs could potentially see 6.5 million households classified as living in fuel poverty from the end of this year.

He said: “Despite a long lag in government data for England; these new statistics highlight an extremely alarming lack of progress in meeting the UK government’s statutory energy poverty commitments. By 2030, there should be no more fuel-poor households living in energy-intensive homes. But, based on current progress, instead of eight years, it will take more than 60 years for that to happen.

“The government also had a clear target to improve the least efficient homes by 2020, but more than 180,000 of England’s poorest households are languishing in the most expensive homes to heat.”

The NEA is critical of the extent of current government incentives to improve the energy efficiency of homes amid broader calls from some industry bodies, campaigners and parliamentary watchdogs for a national focus on energy efficiency. financing of renovation works in order to reduce overall heat demand.

These efficiency improvements should also better support the introduction of low-carbon heating systems such as heat pumps.

The SEA noted that pledges made in 2019 by the Conservative Party in its general election manifesto to invest £9.2billion in improving the energy efficiency of households and public buildings were still not met. not fully maintained.

These pledges include the £2.5bn Home Improvement Grants (HUG) scheme to target low-income households with poor energy efficiency. Less than half of the funding pledged in the government’s manifesto has actually been committed, according to SEA.

The campaign group said it welcomed a consultation last year to extend incentives such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), Warm Homes Rebate (WHD) and minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rental sector (PRS). However, the implementation of these proposals has faced long delays at a time when energy costs are becoming a significant issue for households, the SEA said.

Peter Smith said the expected rise in average energy bills this year is likely to have a negative impact on people living in the least efficient homes in England if they want to heat homes “to a healthy or reasonable level”.

He said: “The energy crisis should be a wake-up call to do much more to protect these households, but key programs are missing.”

“Full compliance with the commitments of the manifesto and the implementation of their previous proposals would immediately help us get back on track. These statistics show why we have no time to waste.

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