BEAMA responds to Fuel Poverty Strategy consultation

16 Sep 2019

Today BEAMA has responded to BEIS’ Fuel Poverty Strategy consultation. The new measure of fuel poverty better reflects that the sustainable way to move people out of fuel poverty is to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

We fully agree with the proposal for a ‘sustainability principle’, ensuring that the fuel poverty strategy do not contradict clean growth policies. This will give more certainty to householders and also to businesses, who are eager to invest in measures that can alleviate fuel poverty when not hampered by policy. There is a need to distribute costs fairly, and recognising that the prices of fuels are not currently proportionate to their carbon content.

While there is sense in a cost-effectiveness appraisal measure, and it may be true that some homes will not meet Government’s minimum energy efficiency targets (e.g. EPC band C by 2030) there is still much that can be done to help these households. For example, lower cost measures such as improved heating controls and heating system maintenance (with water treatment) can have a significant benefit for efficiency and costs.

Furthermore, more regular improvements will give opportunities to give advice to householders on the best way to comfortably and efficiently operate their home. Much more could be made of the Government’s energy advice website to help fuel poor and able to pay households at the same time.

There is some coverage of non-energy issues, and we encourage Government to consider how helping low income households with home improvements can benefit individuals and the economy as a whole. For example, many are also likely to be in ‘air quality poverty’, unable to improve the ventilation in their homes that would benefit their health and work with their energy setup.

Finally, we stress that any policies need to be fully communicated and properly implemented. A mixture of Government intervention and market frameworks can work, but we do note the comments from the UK Committee on Fuel Poverty and Energy Saving Trust regarding the mismatch between funding in England and the other nations of the UK, as well as concerns about overall levels of funding and the comment from the CCC that energy efficiency in general should be a national infrastructure policy. At a time when many countries are struggling to make energy efficiency gains, this is particularly apt and could benefit the fuel poor the most.

Members can access the full BEAMA response here.