Energy bills, the fuel poor and the Autumn Statement

Measures by the government, as announced recently in the Autumn Statement, which help those who are most vulnerable to high energy costs, are to be welcomed.. ECO offers free energy efficiency measures to low income households and the Warm Home Discount gives money off energy bills for the most needy. In total the two schemes account for £36 on the average UK dual fuel bill of £1,340.

It has been reported that George Osborne will move the cost of the Warm Home Discount into general taxation, saving £11 off the average bill. It has also been announced that the rollout of the ECO scheme will be slowed, stretching the scheme out over four years instead of two. However, the local Footprint Trust charity, that specialises in helping those in fuel poverty, is not impressed.

“In the Autumn Statement it was announced that there would be a two-year delay in ECO. This spreading of the energy efficiency funding over four years instead of two years ,will leave many cash-strapped Island families shivering in the cold.for a longer period”
Said Ray Harrington-Vail the National Hero for the Isle of Wight, who works for The Footprint Trust charity.

By slowing down ECO and moving the Warm Homes Discount into general taxation the government will be able to take around £36 off the average bill – a sum that won’t materially lower consumers’ energy bills, only soften the impact of the announced price rises.
“The major cost of the increases is the international price of imported fuels, not energy company profits or green taxes.”

“A great opportunity has been missed, insulating homes and providing new efficient heating systems, helps reduce long-term fuel poverty, reduces carbon emissions and cuts fuel imports. These measures could save a typical household more than £500 each year – 10 times more than the £50 Osborne is promising, and also far more than Labour’s price freeze proposals.”

Under the new measures, the period which ECO covers will be extended from two to four years (to 2017) and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation element of ECO will be reduced by 33 per cent up to 2017. The number of solid wall insulation installations energy suppliers are required to make under ECO will also be reduced to 100,000 over the new four year period (25,000 per year). In 2012 alone, industry installed 80,000 solid wall insulation measures.

“Old solid wall homes on the Isle of Wight often need to have external insulation. They are often lived in by elderly people, on a meagre pension. This scheme could have brought their homes up to a modern standard and greatly improved their quality of life. This cut is a major blow to the rural poor.”

“This is the first time The Footprint Trust have commented on the Autumn Statement, but we feel we must say how wrong the government is in pursuing policies that play to the gallery and do not help the fuel poor or the environment.”


The Footprint Trust – Ray Harrington-Vail 01983 822282