Over 100 energy companies, charities and businesses operating under the banner of the ‘Energy Bill Revolution’ have joined forces to warn the Government that Britain is heading for a fuel poverty crisis.
In a letter to David Cameron, the Prime Minister, they argue that the Government is not doing enough to deal with rising gas and electricity bills which are leaving a growing number of people unable to afford to heat their homes properly.
The Energy Bill Revolution group, which includes Age UK, Barnardo’s, the Co-operative and Npower are urging David Cameron to use money raised from the carbon tax scheme due to be levied from April this year, to tackle the problems caused by cold homes. A national programme to install effective insulation in homes would protect those suffering from fuel poverty, whilst helping the environment and boosting the economy at the same time.
With temperatures at their lowest of the winter so far, the group claims that 6 million households are currently affected by fuel poverty because they spend more than 10 per cent of household income keeping their homes warm and as many as 9 million households could be affected by 2016. Energy Bill Revolution claims that the forthcoming Green Deal and the Energy Companies Obligation are simply not enough to stop the growth of fuel poverty. The only way to tackle the problem in the long term is to introduce a programme to install insulation in properties across the UK – which could save the average household over £300 a year on energy bills.
A spokesman for Age UK claimed that the elderly were particularly vulnerable to rising fuel costs and urged the Government take effective action. He added that “sitting in a cold home, worrying about the cost of putting the heating” on, can “exacerbate illness, induce unhappiness and depression and exclude people from society”.
Additionally, a recent study found that a scheme to install effective insulation in the homes of those suffering from fuel poverty would be more effective at inducing growth in the economy than a cut in VAT or infrastructure spending. It would create around 100,000 jobs in the construction industry, reduce energy bills and leave families with more disposable income, which in turn would boost consumer spending.