Making connections to tackle fuel poverty

23rd Jan 2017


There is no doubting that having 4 million households across the UK living in fuel poverty – in excess of 10 million people – is a blight that our industry feels particularly sensitive about.

The obvious statement to make, based on the findings of our latest report “Fuel Poverty – a connected solution”, is that poverty itself is the biggest single contributor to fuel poverty. That’s obvious I know. But the next biggest factor is whether the household has a condensing gas boiler – if not, someone is 43 per cent more likely to live in fuel poverty than if one is fitted.

That finding, combined with the cost effectiveness of a gas connection, leads to the conclusion that connecting a property to the gas network and fitting a gas central heating system (you can’t do one without the other) is the best energy solution to tackling fuel poverty. Based on replacing direct electric heating, savings of up to £922 a year should not be dismissed lightly. Those households living with the daily challenge of heating or eating, deserve better.

Our report was launched this week, as was the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency’s prospectus for universal affordable warmth. Their analysis of fuel poverty highlights not only the sheer human scale of the problem but also the good work undertaken by numerous organisations across the UK.

That said, with 42,000 excess winter deaths last year, affordable heating demands a national response. That is why I believe a revised ECO, targeted solely at fuel poverty could provide sufficient funding to make a sizeable in-road into fuel poverty by permanently lifting nearly 140,000 households out of fuel poverty. Paying for both the gas connection and first time central heating system, strikes me as being a simple, effective and long-lasting policy proposal to help tackle what is a growing and preventable problem.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CE