Monday, 13 July 2009

RECESSION FORCING MORE HOMES INTO FUEL POVERTY

More households will be pushed into fuel poverty without 'radical action' by the Government because of higher energy prices and growing unemployment, a new report has warned.
The Government's Fuel Poverty Advisory Group said a clear plan should be set out to meet the target of eradicating fuel poverty by 2016. Fuel poverty levels were more than three times the rate of five years ago and existing measures were inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem, said the report.
Derek Lickorish, chairman, said: "Energy prices are going to become even more of an issue as the cost of tackling carbon emissions grows, unemployment rises and the energy market remains volatile. The measures in place to deal with fuel poverty now are simply inadequate to tackle the rise in fuel poverty that this cocktail of issues could create.
"Unless fuel poverty is tackled head on, many hundreds of thousands more vulnerable pensioners, families and disabled people will struggle to afford their energy bills. A thorough strategy, with decisive action on social tariffs and energy efficiency, is needed from the Government to help lift the poorest households out of fuel poverty."
The group estimated that over four million households in England were in fuel poverty - where more than 10 per cent of a household income is spent on energy.
David Kidney, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said: "The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group report makes a valuable contribution to our work looking at fuel poverty policies and programmes. Their input now and through the year is welcomed by DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) as we continue to work to tackle the very real challenge of fuel poverty.
"Government has spent more than £20 billion since 2000 on policies and programmes which can help tackle fuel poverty. But we know the challenge needs further action, and recognise that rising energy costs has reversed the downward trend on the number of households in fuel poverty.
"The transition to a low-carbon energy supply will also impact on consumers. We will be doing all we can to ease the burden on low-income households and provide the support required to be able to heat and power their homes at an affordable cost."

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