UK second only to Estonia in European fuel poverty league

October 25th, 2013

The UK is second only to Estonia for fuel poverty, according to damning figures released today.

Compared against 27 other European nations, the UK ranks 26, with a higher proportion of people who are struggling to pay their energy bills than every other country in Europe except Estonia.

As energy bills rise, the UK’s leading groups fighting fuel poverty have written to the leaders of all three main parties, calling on them to act.

The groups include Age UK, Barnardo’s, Consumer Futures, National Energy Action and the Energy Bill Revolution. They tell the party leaders that investment in super-insulation for the nation’s homes is the only way to end the scourge of fuel poverty once and for all and the best way to bring down energy bills.

Woeful levels of insulation see Britain’s homes fall way behind those of comparable European countries like Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

The wholesale cost of gas in the UK is much lower than in most European countries, however British families pay much higher heating bills than our neighbours, due to the amount of heat lost from our drafty homes.

There are over 5 million UK households living in fuel poverty, defined by needing to spend more than ten percent of their income on energy to keep warm. The problem is escalating as fuel prices rise. On average 26,000 people die every winter from the cold with the United Nations estimating that up to 30% of these deaths are due to living in cold homes.

The Energy Bill Revolution wants to see Carbon Tax, which is currently paid by large companies for their CO2 emissions, spent on an ambitious programme of super-insulation for Britain’s homes.

Investing in super-insulation could save up to £500 a year on a family energy bill, and could eliminate fuel poverty in the UK once and for all. There is enough carbon tax to make over half a million homes super energy efficient every year.

The groups warn the party leaders that by focusing on short term solutions to the energy bill crisis, like price caps, windfall taxes and cutting green subsidies, they are ignoring the only way to truly solve the energy bill crisis.

The Government’s funding for energy efficiency measures for the fuel poor has been cut by 44% since they came to power.

Only 12 homes have so far signed up for the Government’s flagship Green Deal scheme, which was designed to encourage homeowners to take out a loan to insulate their homes. The Energy Company Obligation, a levy on energy bills to help subsidise energy efficiency measures, is only big enough to bring 250,000 homes out of fuel poverty over the next 10 years according to the Government’s own figures. Meanwhile it is estimated that 300,000 more households will fall into fuel poverty this winter as a result of the recent rise in energy bills.

Research from Cambridge Econometrics shows that treating energy efficiency as an infrastructure project, the Government could create 130,000 jobs for builders and deliver a boost to the economy greater than any equivalent capital investment.

Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, said: “Our political leaders are falling over themselves to come up with headline-grabbing ways to cut energy bills yet they fall woefully short of a true solution to the energy bill crisis. By far the biggest opportunity to cut energy bills is to fully insulate the UK’s leaky homes. No other investment can do so much for so many. If the Government is serious about solving this crisis they must make insulating homes the UK’s number 1 infrastructure priority.”

MPs supporting the campaign
The only permanent solution to drive down energy bills and end fuel poverty.