Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Millions struggle to heat homes as Government misses fuel poverty target

Millions of vulnerable people remain in fuel poverty despite a multi-billion spending scheme to help elderly people heat their homes, MPs have warned.

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentPublished: 7:00AM BST 30 Mar 2010
Ministers promised to end fuel poverty among deprived households by 2010 in England and to wipe out the problem completely by 2016.
But the influential Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Committee said both targets will be missed because taxpayers' money spent on the problem has not been given to the right people.

The number of households in 'fuel poverty' – or spending more than 10 per cent of their income on heating – has doubled to around £4.6 million this year.
Paddy Tipping, chairman of the committee, said efforts like the Warm Front Scheme have failed because the money is offered to the elderly and those on benefits. He pointed out that not all old people struggle to pay the bills while many vulnerable people do not claim credits.
He said the Government also failed to take into account rural communities that struggle to pay the bills because they are not on the mains grid and poor families in badly insulated homes.
"Some people who are fuel poor do not get help, while others who are not in fuel poverty receive assistance," he said.
The MPs suggested a database that shows which homes are better insulated and more data sharing on households with problems, although this has issues for privacy.
Consumer groups are also concerned about plans by British Gas to roll out smart meters to one million homes this year.
Which? is worried that information on the energy use of individual households could be "misused".