New Report Calls for Upcoming Budget to Help Households in Fuel Poverty

Today (17th February) marks Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, and a new report from the fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and commissioned by the UK Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs) has highlighted opportunities to help vulnerable households struggling to afford to keep their homes warm.

The report, titled “In from the Cold”, recommends measures to help provide greater support to homes in fuel poverty through future changes to Energy Company Obligation (ECO); a major Government initiative to provide heating and insulation to low income households. The proposals would help some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our communities receive financial support for first time central heating systems, which would also allow them to benefit from support offered by GDNs through the Fuel Poor Network Extension Scheme (FPNES).

Gas network companies make an important contribution to combatting fuel poverty through FPNES, which offers financial support to help vulnerable customers connect to the gas network – one of the most effective ways of helping lift a household out of fuel poverty. By 2021 GDNs have committed to making 91,000 Fuel Poor Connections, giving lower income and vulnerable customers access to a secure and affordable source of heat.

However, support from GDNs through FPNES is dependent on the household being able to finance a new heating system, and the NEA report shows that recent changes to the ECO scheme fall short of providing sufficient funds for central heating for homes in fuel poverty that are off the gas grid.

The report recommends:

The UK Government make funds available under ECO for fully funded first time gas central heating systems to complete economic gas connections to fuel poor homes. A fund of £37.5 million from April 2017 – September 2018 could support around 9,375 vulnerable households and deliver up to £142 million in lifetime bill savings.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should align future energy suppliers’ fuel poverty obligations with fuel poor gas connections to ensure that non-gas homes can connect to the gas network and be helped out of fuel poverty and for ECO to fully fund central heating systems

Energy Networks Association Chief Executive David Smith said:

“Through the FPNES gas network companies work closely with communities, fuel poor partners and organisations like National Energy Action to support the effort to combat fuel poverty. The recommendations set out in this report would help our GDNs go even further in offering affordable heat solutions to vulnerable customers.

On Fuel Poverty Awareness Day we ask that the Government seriously consider the conclusions and recommendations in the report in time for the upcoming Budget and help make a real difference to thousands of households who potentially miss out under supplier led schemes.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors

Energy Networks Association is the voice of the networks, representing the UK’s gas and electricity transmission and distribution networks.

The National Energy Action report “In from the Cold” was commissioned by the Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs):
o National Grid Gas Distribution
o Northern Gas Networks
o SGN
o Wales & West Utilities

The report is available online at www.nea.org.uk/infromthecold