Thursday, 18 November 2010

The Green Deal "needs to be flexible" to help the fuel poor

With current hikes in fuel prices, the issue of lifting people out of fuel poverty is of growing concern. Fuel poverty is defined as when more than 10% of household income is spent on fuel bills. Today there are over 4.6 million people in the UK who are considered 'fuel poor'.

At an event yesterday, hosted by Eaga Charitable Trust, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners, came together to suggest how fuel poverty might be tackled in the light of predicted and continuing energy price rises.

Simon, our UK Business Support Manager, was there, and explains, here, how the solutions might work.

"Of course, the real solution lies in bringing the 26 million UK properties that are not efficient up to the energy efficiency standard of new homes."

"The current coalition government has announced the delivery of the ‘Green Deal’, which will replace programmes like Warm Front and the other of energy supplier obligations programmes that currently exist.

"What is being planned is a market-led ‘Pay As You Save’ scheme. Money for energy savings measures, like solid wall insulation, condensing boilers, or micro generation technologies, could be received in the form of a long-term loan which is paid back (in theory) by the energy savings the measures create."

"However, the ‘fly in the ointment’, for those in fuel poverty, is that taking out loans when you are already poor may not be attractive: you may use more energy as a result of having (say) central heating installed, rather than the one or two rooms you currently heat. As was discussed yesterday, paying back a loan rather than a fuel bill does not lift you out of fuel poverty."

"The Green Deal needs to be flexible enough to offer moderations to the scheme, so that it allows subsidies to be paid to poor households, so that the equations that work for those who are already in warm homes are also applicable to the fuel poor".

(pic: Ashden Award winners Kirklees Council has supported the installation of energy efficiency measures, such as this cavity wall installation, in houses across the region)

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