The coalition government has been warned by MPs not to weaken its commitment to eliminate fuel poverty. A report published by the Environmental Audit Committee highlights government moves to redefine the number of people who can be counted as ‘fuel poor’, which will reduce the figure from 3.2 million to 2.4 million households overnight.
- The coalition government’s proposed change of definition of fuel poverty – along with a weakening of the legislative commitment, to ‘address’ fuel poverty rather than ‘eliminate’ it – will place a greater imperative on the government to demonstrate that it is committed to making fuel poverty ‘a thing of the past’.
- To aid transparency, the coalition government should continue to publish statistics based on the existing measure of fuel poverty for the remainder of this Parliament, alongside the new figures.
- Energy subsidies play an 'important and justified' role in alleviating fuel poverty.
- A short-term bid to cut bills must not throw energy and climate change policy off-course. Insulating homes and supporting green technologies is vital to help people in fuel poverty and cut harmful emissions.
- The coalition should make clear how any changes to green levies will change the amount that those in fuel poverty will have to pay – by how much and how soon.
Chair of the Committee, Joan Walley MP, said: 'The Government is shifting the goal-posts on fuel poverty so that official statistics record far fewer households as fuel-poor. The changes to the fuel poverty definition and target, in part being made through amendments to the Energy Bill, should be stopped unless the Government is prepared to make a public commitment to end fuel poverty altogether'.
Source: Energy Subsidies, Ninth Report (Session 2013-14), HC 61, House of Commons Environmental Audit Select Committee, TSO
Links: Report | Additional written evidence | Committee press release | Childrens Society press release | BBC report | Guardian report | New Statesman report