The UK government has always said it wants to eradicate fuel poverty so just how is being dealt with ?
Fuel Poverty Definition
The simply definition of fuel poverty in the UK is people are in poverty if their fuel bills are more than 10% of their household expenditure. And with the average fuel bill approximately £1,250 this means people with annual expenses of £12,500 fall into this bracket.
The overall aim of the government is to eradicate fuel poverty completely by 2016 although recent research by DECC suggests that there are 6.6 million homes in the UK (England, Wales and Scotland) that are struggling to pay their bills. With around 25 million homes in the UK of which about 70% are owner occupied this suggests that around a quarter of the population find financial difficulty with paying their energy bills. And with some electricity and gas prices the highest ever and prices only set to increase to pay for the investments in alternative fuels this figure made be hard to reduce over the medium term.
Although there is no detailed outlined government stategy to suggest that by doing x then y number of homes will come out of fuel poverty some steps are in place in an attempt to reduce the amount of consumption homes endure.
Grants and Help Available
At present there are government heating and insulation grants available to those on low incomes under the warm front initiative whereby those people who qualify get up to £3,500 of free money to add insulation to their lofts or cavity walls. There are other grants available and new green grants have also been announced for insulation as well as developing renewable energy sources in homes and sell the electricity back to the national grid under feed in tariffs.
If you believe you are in fuel poverty or even if you are on some type of benefits then you should speak to your local council to see what grants and help are available to insulate your home to reduce your overall energy consumption and then your energy bills.
In addition, to cut costs you should also look at the most competitive tariffs that are available to reduce your pricing and costs. If you are able to pay by direct debit then the tariffs are even cheaper.
New Charter from Consumer Focus
Consumer focus have also launched a new charter which summarises what we have said above so that there is a real step by step strategy for the government to reach their targets to end fuel poverty by 2016. They suggest that there should be a complete overhaul of their strategy and have a coordinate plan for those that need help the most. It is suggested that with all the energy efficiency measures that are available, if implement could reduce an inefficient home’s fuel bills by up to 70% and carbon emissions by 59%. They of course add that this would require a significant investment but if the target is to be achieved then radical new thinking may be required so that uk fuel poverty really is something in the past.