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Tag Archives: Fuel Poverty
November 2016: The London Assembly Environment Committee will be holding an oral evidence session later this week – Thursday 10 November – on home energy efficiency progress in London, and the challenges faced by Londoners living in homes suffering from fuel poverty. An outline paper prepared for the Committee is available here – and the 10am session will be webcast on the following link. Evidence will be provided by National Energy Action, Friends of the Earth and the Energy Saving Trust.
The Mayor last month committed to preparing a Fuel Poverty Action Plan for London (see page 29 of following transcript of 19 October 2016 Question Time session):
“2016/3848 – The Cold Homes Crisis
Leonie Cooper AM In London there are as many as 348,000 fuel poor homes. There is also a clear pattern of increasing depth of fuel poverty in older households. Given these terrible statistics, what action will you take to protect pensioners this winter?
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London): Thank you for taking this question, Dr Sahota. I am hugely concerned about the levels of fuel poverty in London and its increasing depth amongst older households, which is a national trend and is extremely worrying. I am committed to taking much more of a leadership role. I will look at ways to better target fuel poverty measures in London and produce a Fuel Poverty Action Plan for the capital.
My new Energy for Londoners programme will tackle fuel poverty on a number of fronts. I intend to set up a not-for-profit energy company to ensure fair and affordable bills for Londoners targeting those people who are currently paying above the odds for their energy bills. This includes households with prepay meters and those who have not switched energy supplier in the last couple of years. I will also reinvigorate and develop new homes, energy efficiency programmes and initiatives to both save carbon and cut bills. In addition, I will support the rollout of smart meters, ensuring that Londoners are supported in being able to use their meters to use energy more efficiently. While I am very concerned about the reduction in the Energy Company Obligation budget, I welcome the shift in its focus towards fuel poverty given the absence of any other national fuel poverty energy efficiency support programmes. Continue reading…
March 2016: This month Mayor’s Question Time – the last in Boris Johnson’s eight year tenure as Mayor – once again included a wide range of questions on energy and climate, which included:
capturing waste heat from London Crossrail stations; the Mayor’s record on climate change; London based generators and Licenced Lite; the ability for Londoners connected to a district heating scheme to complain about poor service performance; anticipated prices of district energy heat tariffs; announcing the start of the Licence Lite programme; improvements in electricity export sales price for generators through Licence Lite; the number of Excess Winter Deaths amongst Londoners; challenges in promoting gasification technologies at the Olympic Park; the GLA’s Environment Team budget over the last 8 years; targets associated with the Boiler Scrappage Scheme; publication of London district energy schemes heat tariffs; the publication of London Energy Plan studies; guaranteeing that there are no plans for an incineration plan at Old Oak Common; the Mayor’s Boiler Scrappage scheme and fraud; RE:NEW energy efficiency retrofit programme delivery problems; how government energy efficiency programmes have helped Londoners; the amount of London’s (non transport) energy is supplied through local decentralised energy systems; cuts to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO); the Mayor’s recent meeting with the Secretary of State for Energy; the absence of London Fuel Poverty Strategy; the roll out of smart meters in London
Sutton district heating scheme; embodied carbon; annual progress on decentralised energy growth in London; anticipated savings from the new GLA boiler ‘cashback’ scheme; visits by the Mayor to RE:NEW energy efficiency retrofit projects; TfL future energy costs and the Mayor’s meeting with the National Infrastructure Commission.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
26 February 2016: Sarah Chapman a volunteer and trustee at Wandsworth foodbank writes in the New Statesman on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day that “It’s no surprise that food poverty and fuel poverty are close friends; two spokes in the wheel of wider deprivation, or adjacent seats on the rollercoaster that’s life on a low/no income. We see this every day at our foodbank centres across Wandsworth. If you haven’t got money for food, you’re unlikely to have enough to “burn on gas”, as one guest, a security guard, told me.” Read the full article here. Full information on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is available on National Energy Action’s website.
February 2016: The Kilburn Times reports that Brent Central MP, Dawn Butler, and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (who is also the Islington North MP) have launched a campaign in the House of Commons to tackle the higher costs of using prepayment gas and electricity meters. The campaign was kick-started with the launch of a petition on behalf of more than 13,000 residents in Brent who use the prepayment method.
Following on from an Early Day Motion (EDM) on prepayment meters put forward by Dawn Butler, the Brent MP held a debate in the House of Commons on the 1st of December 2015 highlighting that her “constituency has one of the highest numbers of people on PPMs in the country—at 26%, it is 10% above the national average—and those on PPMs pay on average £226 more a year than those with the cheapest direct debit deals.” (full transcript here – youtube video here).
The Kilburn Times also reported that Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan was at the campaign launch where he said “One in five households in London have no choice but to use prepayment meters to pay their bills. This could be costing the most disadvantaged families in the capital an additional £140 million a year. “I am calling on the energy companies to automatically give Londoners the best possible deal on their energy tariffs and ensure the most disadvantaged in our communities are given reduced standing rates.””
Another London politician supporting the campaign is East Ham MP Stephen Timms.
October 2015: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to: the number of London projects awarded funding from government’s Urban Community Energy Fund (UCEF); minutes of the London Plan Energy Advisory Group meetings; helping reduce energy bills for Londoners who have electric heating; GLA loan to Tempus Energy; the impact of the closure of the Green Deal; minimum energy efficiency standards on London’s Private Rented Sector; support for the Governor of the Bank of England’s recent comments on carbon disclosure (and again) ; the FIT consultation and it’s impact on London’s solar industry (and again here); suppliers on the Mayor’s new RE:NEW energy efficiency retrofit framework; London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) investment in the fossil fuel sector; projected returns from investments made by the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF); planning approval of the Beddington incinerator; a health impact assessment for Beddington incinerator; London Plan requirements for borough planning carbon offset funds; London business risk and financial exposure to a ‘carbon bubble‘; climate sceptic views; Greenwich Power Station update; LED lighting on the Great West Road; production of BioSNG in London; tackling fuel poverty; the rollout of smart meters in London; supporting London businesses resilience to climate change; and an update to the License Lite process.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
December 2014: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:
alternative energy for maritime facilities; the Mayor’s Energy Advisor’s letter to the Treasury to support tax incentives to help community energy projects; the Belvedere Energy from Waste plant and the Viridor Energy Recovery plant in Beddington, Sutton; the Mayor’s Energy Advisor’s visit to Shanghai and Beijing; the Mayor’s support for minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector; Crossrail stations using decentralised energy; whether the Mayor supports the call for energy efficiency to be made a UK infrastructure priority; research commissioned by the GLA Environment Team this year costing more than £10,000; Islington Council’s recent success at the Energy Institute Awards; TfL officers responsible for examining the potential for solar energy; and again for the Metropolitan Police Service; TfL’s total electricity spend – and the the proportion of electricity it plans to source for low carbon generators in London; whether TfL has undertaken an assessment of solar PV potential across its estate; meetings the Mayor has had with the London Sustainable Development Commission; the amount of solar PV installed across the Met Police’s estate; and also TfL’s estate; a programme for deploying solar across the Met Police’s estate; the Mayor’s support for Cold Homes Week 2015; Excess Winter Mortality (EWM) statistics for London; the number of children in London living in fuel poverty; the number of Londoners living in fuel poverty; if the Mayor had worked with Public Health England on fuel poverty issues; how the Mayor will be helping London households in fuel poverty this winter; Mayoral support for anaerobic digestion facilities in London; the Mayor’s support to older Londoners in fuel poverty; decentralised energy support unit (DEPDU) work on the North London Heat and Power project; the number of RE:NEW households visited with children; RE:NEW programme progress reports; companies on the RE:NEW programme procurement framework and discussions with Brent Council on fracking.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
July 2014: The results of a study of the Mayor’s home energy efficiency programme, RE:NEW, has recently been published in major academic journal Energy Policy (which – for once – is freely available online!) focussing on the first major roll-out of phase of RE:NEW, delivered between July 2011 and April 2012, where 50,683 homes underwent a RE:NEW home energy visit.
The conclusions set out in the paper are quite stark and concludes that with respect to the programme’s engagement with households, that RE:NEW:
- Visits do not generate significant pro-environmental behaviour change.
- Visits do not overcome the barriers to the installation loft and wall insulation.
The paper’s author researched the delivery of RE:NEW in three inner London boroughs and provides a helpful contribution in understanding the limitations and constraints of the programme. The paper also identifies why the design of the programme may have contributed to the challenges RE:NEW faced in achieving its goals and also in engaging effectively with householders. These include:
- “The RE:NEW programme and the specification of the visit were conceived at City Hall and were based on a policy intent of reducing carbon emissions, rather than as the result of demands or expressed desire from residents. As a result, the appetite for the programme, from householders, was questionable.”
- one of the limitations of the home energy visit was the time constraint on visits. Visits generally lasted about an hour and this was due to a number of reasons. Most of the advisors were employed as contract workers and were paid a fixed price for each visit delivered…there was a focus on the number of visits delivered, rather than the length or quality of the visit.
- the short visit length meant that advisors did not have adequate time to install all of the easy measures provided during the visit.
- The effectiveness of visits, specifically in relation to encouraging the adoption of curtailment behaviours, was limited by the expertise of the ‘energy advisors’ who had inadequate training prior to delivering visits.
- over 70% of the visits to the sample groups in local authorities B and C, the householder receiving the visit was living in rented (privately, council or RSL) housing and did not have control over the potential to install further measures.
- the GLA and the local authorities were focused on achieving different outcomes from the RE:NEW visits. For the GLA, the focus of the visits was on reducing carbon emissions, whereas for the local authorities, the focus was on reducing fuel poverty, but these differing aims are not necessarily complementary
- If an impact-oriented approach is taken to reducing carbon emissions then the focus of home energy visits may better placed be on high energy consumers, who are likely to be from more wealthy neighbourhoods and home-owners who will have the control over their properties to make structural changes. Though using tax-payers money to fund such work is unlikely to be politically acceptable
Overall, the study concludes: “Negligible savings were achieved as a result of the installation of significant measures. The impact of the visit on energy and water saving behaviours were also negligible. Overall, for these households, the impact of a visit led to an estimated average reduction in annual household emissions of 3%.”
The paper notes that some of the limitations of the RE:NEW programme have been recognised, and were set out in an evaluation report published earlier this year by the GLA (see earlier post here for background and link to paper).
A third phase of the RE:NEW programme has recently been initiated by the GLA.
June 2014: DECC have just released their 2014 Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report, accompanied by a dizzying number of data sets (all for 2o12), which attempt to detail fuel poor households by housing type, who lives there, by region etc.etc. The headlines of all this work is that government estimate that, in 2012, absolute numbers of fuel poor households had fallen slightly, when compared to previous years, to approximately 10% of all households in England. The overall change in the number of households in fuel poverty was relatively small – with the reduction happening mainly due to income increases for higher income fuel poor households. However, it’s also reported that the number of households in fuel poverty is projected to increase in 2014, with increases in energy costs a key factor.
Key findings include:
- The importance of energy efficiency: households are far less likely to suffer fuel poverty if they live in a better insulated home
- The much higher incidences of fuel poverty in unemployed households, and those living in privately rented accommodation.
Though the data indicates a lower proportionof fuel poor households in London than other regions (attributed in the report to higher incomes in London and greater access to the gas grid) the findings above are of particular importance to the capital due to the high (and increasing) number of households living in the privately rented sector, and the much lower levels of activity achieved by the government’s energy efficiency programmes in London.
The recent changes adopted by government in how to define when a household is in fuel poverty (as set out in the government’s 2013 ‘Fuel Poverty: A Framework for Action) – under a new ‘Low Income Household Costs’ (LIHC) indicator – specifically takes housing costs into account for the first time. Not surprisingly, this was thought to have a significant impact to the numbers of fuel poor in London due to the higher housing costs observed in the capital – with a predicted near 50% increase in the number of fuel poor households (see here for details). The Fuel Poverty report doesn’t however appear to provide any commentary on how differences between regional housing cost differences may have impacted on fuel poverty numbers.
Though the proportion of fuel poor households in London is estimated to be lower than most other regions it can also be seen from graph above (copied from the report) that London has seen a much smaller drop across the decade in the number of fuel poor homes than other regions.
The key data breakdown for London is set out in a separate spreadsheet document – the ‘2012 sub-regional fuel poverty data: low income high costs indicator‘. The data includes a local authority breakdown of data and reports that Newham has the highest incidence of fuel poverty in London with close to 1 in 7 homes deemed to be fuel poor, followed by Harrow, Brent and Waltham Forest.
Table 3 of the dataset breaks down the local authority data further to ‘Lower Super Output Area’. Data on fuel poor households by London Parliamentary constituencies is also provided.
‘Fuel Poverty Trends 2003-12’ provides long term trends under the new Low Income High Costs (LIHC) indicator including a time series on number of households estimated to be fuel poor. The data for London is copied below and indicates that the proportion of London households in fuel poverty initially dipped in the early party of the century, but has increased again, hitting a maximum of 13.2% in 2010, before falling again slightly.
The ‘Fuel Poverty Detailed Tables‘ provide limited regional information, but provided data on fuel poverty by housing type, age of residents, age of dwelling, energy efficiency of dwelling, working status, tenure etc. An additional indicators note is also available here.
June 2014: The number of fuel poor households ranked by London Parliamentary constituencies, as set out in DECC’s latest ‘2012 sub-regional fuel poverty data: low income high costs indicator‘ dataset, is provided below:
June 2014: The government announced a review of its ECO (Energy Company Obligation) programme in December 2013, against a backdrop of considerable media coverage, across many months, on the rising costs of consumers’ energy bills – all of which culminated in the Prime Minister’s alleged ‘cut the Green Crap‘ quote .
The ECO sets a legal obligation on energy suppliers to provide a reduction in carbon emissions through supporting the uptake of energy efficiency measures in the domestic sector. Each supplier (effectively the ‘Big 6’) has a specific target assigned to it by government depending on the number of domestic gas and electricity customers they supply. The ECO is paid for through a charge on all household energy bills – which is then collected by suppliers and is in turn used by them to help subsidise energy efficiency programmes – such as reduced cost insulation measures. Each household is estimated to pay around £50 a year to pay for ECO (approximately – it depends on the level of charge passed on by the supplier to their customer to meet the costs of their ECO target), which amounts to around £1.3bn a year total ECO spend. The proposals put forward in ECO consultation, with reductions in supplier target levels, and ‘stretching out’ of the targets to March 2017 (see below), are thought to reduce the cost of ECO to households by £30-35 ie a small reduction in energy bills (around 2% against an average energy bill of £1,300) – but also an overall reduction in the amount of money going to fund the government’s main efficiency programme. It should be noted that predecessor ‘supplier obligation’ programmes have operated in the UK since the mid-90s (EESoP, EEC, CERT, CESP) and have contributed significantly to helping improve the energy efficiency of UK homes (see section 6.13 of latest DCLG English Housing Survey report here).
Following the December press release, a consultation paper – the ‘Future of the ECO‘ – was released on 5 March, which closed for comments on April 16th. The consultation set out a wide number of proposals – of which the major ones were to:
- Extend the operation of ECO beyond the current March 2015 deadline to March 2017
- Set new targets for the three sub-obligation targets (CERO, CSCO and HHCRO)
- Reduce the major sub-target of the ECO – the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO) – target by 33 per cent.
The Mayor has posted his response to the government’s proposals highlighting a number of key concerns including that:
January 2014: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:
the Mayor’s meetings with energy ministers; KPIs under the Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy; establishing a London Energy Cooperative; ECO funding in London; the number of energy suppliers signed up to the Mayor’s MoU; the Mayor’s support for the Energy Bill Revolution’s Cold Homes Week; Kew Gardens decentralised energy scheme; London avoiding the ‘capacity crunch‘; solar installations on GLA buildings; the underheating of Londoners’ homes; the RE:NEW programme energy efficiency targets; the Mayor’s concerns over Government ‘Allowable Solutions‘ proposals; insulation industry jobs; Excess Winter Deaths; insulation projects stalled under ECO; the stalled Affinity Sutton insulation project; RE:NEW targets; retrofitting and planning restrictions; renewable energy installations on the GLA estate; GLA funding to Capita to manage the RE:NEW programme; British Gas funding to ECO; the Mayor’s High Level Electricity Working Group; LED streetlighting projects; CO2 savings achieved under RE:NEW; delayed CO2 savings under RE:NEW; the Climate Change Leaders for a Low Carbon London fuel poverty project; planning CO2 target requirements; meetings with DCLG; biofuel and London buses; GLA Environment Team budgets over next two years; Mayor’s application to the Government’s Green Deal Communities Fund; and tendering for License Lite services.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
December 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:
a debate on how the Mayor will look to address the number of excess winter deaths in London; the impact on London as a result of the Government’s redefinition of fuel poverty; the Mayor’s plans to help tackle fuel poverty (MQs referred to in this answer can be seen here 4251 and 3836); the long terms impacts of climate change; RE:NEW targets to 2015; the Mayor’s view on the recent ‘Green Crap‘ debate; the level of increase in London domestic energy bills over the past three years; funding to improve energy inefficient damp London housing; windfall tax on energy suppliers (see following for link to answer referenced); the energy costs to Londoners as a result of gas fracking; Canary Wharf waste heat offtake; details of the recent £5.6m DECC funding to tackle fuel poverty in London; promoting low cost low carbon energy supplies in London (also see the following MQ 4254); the impact to London as a result of the recent changes to ECO; supporting community-led energy projects such as Brixton Energy; the Mayor’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur competition; opportunities for the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) to invest in low carbon projects; thes costs of nuclear power (read Liberum Capital note referred to in question here); London’s top 500 energy-consuming buildings; Nuclear Power versus decentralised energy; the Mayor’s support for fracking and nuclear power; the Mayor’s ambition – as set out in his recent draft Housing Strategy to retrofit London’s “entire stock for improved energy performance by 2020″; the late publication of the RE:NEW evaluation report; the Mayor’s energy advisor visit to heat pump system at One New Change; the Mayor’s energy advisor visit to the Barkantine CHP system; the Mayor’s work with the Better Buildings Partnership; the Mayor’s energy advisor’s work with the C40; the Mayor’s energy advisor visit to Islington’s Bunhill CHP scheme; the Mayor’s energy advisor visit to the Olympic site CHP system; recent events the Mayor’s energy and environment advisor has spoken at; the Mayor’s view on Labour’s proposals for an energy price freeze; future funding for the RE:NEW support team; the Mayor’s comments on wind power; RE:NEW housing retrofit targets; the award-winning Bunhill CHP; the number of fuel poor households to be delivered by RE:NEW; London’s resilience to a nuclear power station radiation leak; fuel poverty advice given to callers to the Mayor’s Know Your Rights helpline; the impact on solid wall insulation as a result of changes to the ECO; tower block residents assisted under the RE:NEW programme;
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.