The government has set out a new strategy to protect vulnerable households and help drive down fuel poverty while reducing energy bills for “hundreds of thousands of households” in England.
It includes a plan to increase help for vulnerable energy consumers with fuel bills and green upgrades to their homes, with low income families expected to save as much as £500.
The Fuel Poverty Strategy for England includes a commitment to invest a further £60 million to retrofit social housing and £150 million to be invested in the Home Upgrade Grant for energy efficiency measures.
The government also plans to extend the Warm Home Discount scheme – a requirement for energy companies to provide a £140 rebate on the energy bill of low income pensioners and other low income households with high energy bills – to an additional 750,000 homes, helping a total of 2.7 million households.
In addition, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, which requires larger domestic energy suppliers to install heating, insulation or other energy efficiency measures in fuel poor or low, vulnerable or low income homes, will be extended until 2026, with its value boosted from £640 million to £1 billion a year.
ECO3 was estimated to save low income households up to £300 and the extended scheme, ECO4, is expected to help consumers save even more due to the focus on multiple measures.
The proposed Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards are also expected to result in £220 in average bill savings for private renters.
Statistics from the government suggest there are currently 1.2 million fewer low income households living in the least energy efficient homes, i.e. those with Energy Performance Certificates in Band E, F or G, compared to 2010.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This strategy sets out our plan to ensure everyone can afford the energy required to keep their lights and heating on, especially during the winter. Coronavirus has resulted in many consumers seeing reduced income and therefore an increased number of households may now be struggling with their energy bills, especially as it gets colder. Some households may be new to this situation, and for others it may be that they find themselves in an even more difficult financial position than they already were.
“This strategy reflects our commitment to helping the most vulnerable, and how action already taken is helping to make a real difference to fuel poverty. We already have schemes to increase the energy efficiency of homes, reducing the cost of bills whilst also contributing to net zero targets. The expanded Energy Company Obligation is one example of such a programme, resulting in warmer and greener homes for those most vulnerable. We are also protecting tenants against cold homes and high energy bill costs through increased energy efficiency standards.”