Tag Archives: Fuel Poverty

Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

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.

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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

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.

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RE:NEW – Progress & Setbacks Outlined

December 2013: The latest GLA Investment Performance Board meeting includes a useful progress report on the various Mayoral delivery programmes. ‘Project Performance Report‘ paper 10b Appendix 2 includes information of some challenges currently being faced by the Mayor’s residential energy efficiency scheme RE:NEW. The paper states:

Delivery of the RE:NEW Phase II carbon targets are significantly delayed and contractors will miss their contractual obligations. This is largely due to delays in the availability of ECO. The mitigation options are being reviewed including withholding performance payments and reallocating funding to the RE:NEW Support Team to reduce any shortfall in achieving the carbon targets. This combined with  a delay in having to wait for confirmation from the EIB for ELENA funding prior to commencing procurement of the full RE:NEW Support Team means the 2013/14 carbon targets may not be achieved…”

The delays have led to the project being graded an ‘amber’ rating under the paper’s ‘traffic light’ performance system.

A few days later, an update paper on RE:NEW was presented to November’s GLA Housing Infrastructure Group monthly meeting. This paper sets out:

  • RE:NEW has retrofitted over 99,000 homes to date since it was created in 2009
  • Over the next three years, RE:NEW will aim to support the letting of contracts that will save approximately 186,000 tonnes CO2 per annum through retrofitting approximately 232,000 homes
  • Capita Symonds were appointed to operate an interim RE:NEW Support Team – and began work in June of this year, with the GLA’s £150k funding covering programme activities until the end of December 2013. The RE:NEW paper proposes extending this funding by up to £200k for the Support Team to continue activities until the end of March 2014.
  • In contrast to the Investment Board’s mention of programme delays, the Housing Group’s paper relates that “progress made by the [RE:NEW Support] team to date has been excellent. The target of 1,500 tonnes of CO2 saved has been substantially exceeded; two contracts have been signed, with Brent Housing Partnership and LB Lewisham representing a total capital value of £24 million, and a saving of 4,333 tonnes CO2 per annum. There are a further 6 projects in procurement equating to a further £17.5 million capital investment and a saving of almost 6,000 tonnes CO2. This includes projects from Tower Hamlets Homes, LB Wandsworth and LB Havering. A further 17 boroughs and housing associations are engaged with the Support Team at the earlier stages of project development.”

The Housing paper also relates that the GLA is hoping to secure up to £3.85 million from the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) ELENA programme to procure the full RE:NEW Support Team for three years”. The funding process with the EIB has however taken longer than anticipated, leading to the necessity to provide funding to an interim support team.

The paper interestingly also sets out risks associated with not securing this ELENA financing, as well as not being able to access sufficient ECO funds as a consequence of the Government’s recent pronouncements on the supplier obligation energy efficiency programme. The paper states “Changing the ECO model would require secondary legislation…The [GLA] Environment Team is currently developing a proposed lobbying approach to help to address this risk, which may include lobbying for a regional target. If successful this could improve the follow [sic - must be 'flow] of funding for projects.”

The paper highlights that a formal submission to the EIB has now been made and “funding confirmed in principle” should be sometime this month. Hopefully the EIB will be presenting the GLA with a welcome Xmas present this year – watch this space!

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Government announcement on Energy Efficiency…

1 December 2013: …is not anywhere on Number 10 or DECC’s websites but behind a ‘paywall’ in today’s edition of the Sun on Sunday. But is now also reproduced below:

Cameron: We can help the poorest and stick to our green policies

Coalition on pledge to keep energy bills down

By DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, and NICK CLEGG, Deputy Prime Minister

LABOUR leader Ed Miliband rocked Westminster with his pledge of a 20-month freeze on energy bills.
While ministers scoffed it wouldn’t work, they were stung by its popular appeal with voters.

Now after two months of head-scratching, they have come up with an alternative plan to keep prices down.

Here the Prime Minister and his Lib Dem deputy reveal plans to slash £50 off the average bill – and explain how they’ll do it:

BECAUSE of the hard work of the British people, and because we have stuck to our long-term economic plan, Britain’s economy is now on the mend – and we’re determined to help families in every way we can.

The Coalition is offering real help in these hard times: income tax cuts, a council tax freeze, a fuel duty freeze and free school meals for young children.

We have only been able to do this because we have taken difficult decisions and our economic plan is working.

This week, we will announce further help: proposals that will be worth around £50 on average to energy bill-payers.

We’re doing it without taking any help away from poor families or sacrificing our green commitments; and in a way that will keep Britain’s lights on in the long-term too.

When you look at your bill you see it is made up of various costs. Some of these we can’t control.

Most of what you pay is determined by the price of energy in the global market – the gas and oil we’re buying from the Middle East or Europe.

Politicians in the UK cannot wave a magic wand over these prices. To pretend you can is fantasy politics.

But there are bits that government can control – the parts of your bill that go to helping the poorest families heat their homes and to making Britain more energy efficient.

Some say we should drop these commitments entirely but we do not agree. As we approach winter, we refuse to turn our backs on the worst-off families. And if we abandon our green commitments, it is our children and grandchildren who will pay the price.

This Coalition Government has never pursued quick fixes today when they’ll hurt people tomorrow - and we’re not going to start now.

So we are going to stick to these commitments but we are not going to ask you to pay for all of them through your bills.

The two million poorest families who currently receive a discount on gas and electricity will continue to do so, but Government will pay for it. We’re able to afford this because we have cracked down on tax avoidance – leaving us more money to help struggling families. We are also changing the way we fund improving energy efficiency in Britain’s homes.

We will all be better off when our homes lose less heat, so we want the energy companies to help insulate as many homes as possible over the next decade.

But – apart from in the worst-off homes – we’re going to spread the costs of these programmes over a longer time frame, reducing people’s bills.

And to make sure we carry on cutting enough carbon, the Government will pay for new incentives for people to insulate their homes.

Alongside the Green Deal, when you buy a new home you could get up to £1,000 from Government to spend on energy-saving measures – equivalent to half the stamp duty on the average house – or even more for particularly expensive measures.

It is an all-round win. Better insulation means cheaper bills, it will cut carbon emissions and boost British businesses who provide these services.

On top of that, we will offer cash incentives to landlords of the least energy-efficient properties so that, when they are between tenants, they can better insulate their properties. And we’ll also make sure our schools and hospitals are more energyefficient, too.

Taken together, these things mean we will meet our green commitments and support those employed in the insulation industry but, crucially, without putting the cost on energy customers.

Labour have promised a temporary price freeze on energy bills. But they’re taking people for fools. Energy companies would hike up prices both before and after the freeze – so families would end up paying more.

Not only that, by cutting investment in green energy, their freeze would threaten thousands of jobs.

Labour’s con is the worst of all worlds. When an offer sounds too good to be true it usually is.

The Coalition has come up with a serious and credible plan that actually works.

By taking the time to get this right, we’ve got the best outcome all round. No poor family will lose a penny of help.

Our clean energy sector will get the investment it needs, the lights will stay on and we will cut just as much carbon as we planned.

Instead of a fake giveaway, we’ve found another way to support Britain’s hard-pressed families when they need it most.

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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

November 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

the price of Londoner’s gas bills; the uptake of the Green Deal in London; details of schools going through the RE:FIT Energy Efficiency Programme; the recent GLA-commissioned study looking at London’s Zero Carbon Energy ResourceLondon Energy Costs; the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) Loan to Croydon; work undertaken on Energy Efficiency guidance to SMEs; buildings adopting the GLA Sustainable Design and Construction Standards; whether the Mayor had sent a copy of the GLA’s  ’Energy Planning: Monitoring the implementation of London Plan energy policies in 2012‘ research to CLG;  the Mayor’s response to a recent Environment Audit Committee recommendation that local authorities should have a statutory duty to produce low-carbon plans for their area; the GLA’s response to CLG’s Allowable Solutions consultation; Mayoral concern over CLG’s Housing Standards Review consultation; organisations working alongside the Mayor’s Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; events proposed around the Mayor’s Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; London’s children and fuel poverty; evaluation of the Know Your Rights Campaign; the Mayor’s support for nuclear; the Mayor’s response to former PM John Major’s comments on households having to choose between heating or eating; an update report on the Mayor’s Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy; the Mayor’s response to concerns that the ECO is to be scrapped; the Mayor’s strategy for delivering the ECO and Green Deal in London; whether the Mayor has been in contact with CLG over the Housing Standards Review consultation.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

October 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

Climate change leadership; London’s successful ‘green economy”;
potential for wind energy in London; the human contribution to climate change; Nissan Electric taxis‘; emissions from electric vehicles; promoting community energy through planning; Mayor’s briefing to the House of Lords on the Energy Bill; Mayoral visits to the Dagenham wind power project; RE:NEW programme advice on supplier switching; supplier switching advice; Nuclear power and London; bills savings achieved by households under RE:NEW; the Mayor’s energy advisor’s visit to New York; the Mayor’s energy advisor’s visit to Rio de Janeiro; the Mayor’s view on wind farms; London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) Advisory Committee papers; nuclear power value to Londoners; roll-over energy contracts for SMEs; CO2 savings achieved under RE:NEW; the Mayor’s energy advisor’s visit to San Francisco; the Mayor’s view on MASDAR’s investment in the London Array; the Mayor’s view on shale gas; investment opportunities for London through financing wind power projects; hosting a London ‘Climate Week‘; RE:NEW advice supplier switching; renewable electricity supply to the Tube; SOURCE London charging points; London’s need for more electricity substations; completion of Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; applications to the London Schools Hydrogen Challenge; budget allocated to the Mayor’s new Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; the Mayor’s new Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; Londoners supported through the Mayor’s Know Your Rights helpline; GLA officers working on the new Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; RE:NEW report backs; Benefit Entitlement Checks (BECs) under RE:NEW; carbon offsets for flights; key activities in the Mayor’s new Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; private sector funding leveraged by RE:NEW; targets under the Affordable Warmth and Health Action Plan; community level responses to heatwaves; disseminating research undertaken to date on how to cope with heatwaves and the health impacts of cold homes.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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Poverty figures for London

September 2013: Recently released GLA research indicates that:

  • The number of Londoners living in poverty has seen little change over the last few years.
  • More than a third of London’s children are in households with income below the poverty line, though rates have again fallen. The poverty rate for children in London, after housing costs, remains higher than for any other region, but is at its lowest level for 16 years.
  • Child poverty in Outer London, before housing costs are taken into account, has fallen to the same level it was when the Government set Child Poverty reduction targets.
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Are London Health & Wellbeing Boards taking fuel poverty seriously?

July 2013:  The Health and Social care Act 2012 established new Health and Wellbeing Boards for each top tier and unitary authority. These operated in ‘shadow form’ over the period 2012-13 taking on full  statutory functions from April 2013.  The boards have strategic influence over commissioning decisions across health, public health and social care and a new Age UK report has conducted research to “determine whether the newly formed Health and Wellbeing Boards in England are taking fuel poverty as seriously as is needed.”

The  report sets out that : “Every available Health and Wellbeing Strategy published before March 2013 was looked at to determine the influence of fuel poverty on the priorities set by each Health and Wellbeing board. The results are based on the 122 Health and Wellbeing Strategies that were available, and show that

  • More than half of the Health and Wellbeing Boards appear to be side-lining issues surrounding fuel poverty altogether.
  • Only 4% seem to be doing as much as possible to help combat fuel poverty within their local community.
  • Some Boards consider fuel poverty in their community to be decreasing. This could be because they are using figures from 2010, an unusual year when (against the trend) the number of fuel poor households decreased, and before the subsequent round of high fuel price increases. These figures are now outdated and incorrect.”

Each Health and Wellbeing Strategy available was given a rating of between 1 and 5 (indicating poor to excellent respectively).  Of the five example strategies examined and given the worst rating (1), two London local authorities are highlighted – Ealing and Waltham Forest. Worryingly, page 6 of the report sets out the 122 strategies examined, a further 12 London boroughs are rated (1): Barnet, Brent, Bromley, Camden, Hackney, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lewisham, Merton, Newham.

The City of London, Croydon, Greenwich, Haringey, Harrow, Kingston, Sutton, Westminster are rated (2). Havering and Wandsworth are rated (3). A few boroughs appear to have been omitted from the table on page 6 – but are referenced in the Appendix on page 19. Barking and Dagenham actually scores the highest with a (4), Redbrige a (3), Richmond (2), and Tower Hamlets (1). Strategies for Bexley, Enfield, Hammersmith & Fulham and Lambeth were not available to the survey team. Page 19 also mentions that Southwark’s stategy could not be found.

The results are highly surprising, rating some London local authorities which have significant fuel poverty programmes in place very low (Islington being the most obvious – with its award-winning SHINE programme – which is now also being utilised by Hackney), suggesting that the consultation process that took place to establish these strategies failed to engage properly with relevant officers delivering such services. The Mayor has recently responded to some questions to him regarding his role in raising energy issues to the new Health and Wellbeing Boards – highlighting some recent work undertaken by the London Climate Change Partnership and stating that further guidance ‘bespoke environmental guidance for the 33 health and wellbeing boards in London is curently being drafted (see here and here).  Details of the new London Health Board, also critical to this discussion, can be seen in an earlier post here.

National Energy Action (NEA) held an excellent event earlier this year in Southwark - Achieving public health outcomes on fuel poverty and excess winter deaths – which looked at how health management is being devolved to local authorities and how fuel poverty needs to be integrated in these new strategies. Presentations from the seminar are available here.

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Energy & Climate Questions to the Mayor

May 2013: This month the Mayor has been asked questions in relation to:

whether the Mayor had signed up to the London Big Energy Switch; whether the Mayor had signed up to the Green Deal; making Greenwich Power station a low-carbon generator;  the London Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventory (LEGGI); discussions with DECC over increasing levels of fuel poverty in London; the Mayor’s response to the Government’s consultation on a new definition for fuel poverty – (link to actual response document here); the growth of fuel poverty in London’s private rented sector; a new power station for London; energy and climate issues in Transport for London’s business plan; decentralised energy and the London Infrastructure Group; meetings with energy supplier companies on the ECO in London; the impact of rising energy prices on London’s economy; the poor uptake of photovoltaics in London; renewable energy supply to London Underground; the use of recycled cooking oil in London’s bus fleet; the number of job losses in the insulation industry in London; how the London Enterprise Panel’s Skills & Employment Working Group will promote green jobs; the number of ‘green’ double decker buses in London; the number ‘green’ single decker buses in London’; emissions related to the ‘New bus for London’; the Shoreditch Heat Network; the Citigen CHP scheme; Guidance on Low Carbon Cooling systems; zero carbon heating at the Tate modern; minutes of the High Level Electricity Working Group; future changes in London’s weather; climate change in the national curriculum; petition to remove climate change from the national curriculum; carbon emissions and projects supported under the Growing Places Fund the RE:NEW evaluation report and an update on the Mayor’s electricity ‘license lite’ application.

Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.

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London served poorly by Warm Front programme

22 May 2013: After some delay, DECC have published their latest annual report for the Warm Front programme for the year April 2011-March 2012. Little information has been released on the Warm Front programme since early 2012, when measures delivered per parliamentary constituency were published.

The report indicates that London has – once again – been poorly served by the programme, with the capital having the lowest number of homes assisted. See graphic from the report below.

Warm Front was the Government’s principal fuel poverty alleviation scheme and the only energy efficiency scheme centrally funded by Government [ie the various energy supplier obligation programmes that have operated over the past decade (EEC, CERT, CESP) are paid through by charges added to UK householders electricity and gas bills by energy companies]. The incoming Government decided to significantly reduce the budget of Warm Front – from  an annual spend of £345m to £110m in 2011/2012. This was further reduced to £100m in 2012/13 which was also decided to be the last year of the scheme.

The foreword to the annual report points out that “For the first time in the history of the scheme the budget available was not fully spent. The greatest reason for the budget not being fully spent was undoubtedly the low rate of applications received by the scheme.” The Government came under significant criticism in 2012 as a result of this underspend, coming as it did at not only at a time of increasing fuel price rises, but also after the budget of the programme had been cut by 68%! A House of Commons briefing note from February 2012 provides details to all of this – and further info on the impacts in London in post here).

In relation to the final year of the programme – 2012/13 – the annual report for which we may not see for another year (!?) – the Government actually withdrew funds late last year from the Warm Front budget to pay for a number of new initiatives  - the Green Deal Pioneer Places programme, a fuel poverty programme and a collective switching scheme (details via the following link). It was not announced at the time that some £30m was drawn out of the Warm Front budget to fund these schemes  -  and only came to light earlier this year (see latter parliamentary questions from Shadow Secretary of State Caroline Flint to DECC here).

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New London Health Board

May 2013: The newly constituted London Health Board met for the first time on 20 May 2013. A press release sets out that the Board is a “partnership between local government, the NHS and the Mayor of London, which has been established to provide leadership on health issues of pan-London significance, where this adds value to decisions, agreements and action at local level.” A useful evidence paper was presented at this first meeting setting out some useful information on ‘Health in London‘. None of the papers  indicate that the Board are to address issues relating to health and its relationship to cold homes or fuel poverty, however,  this is only their first meeting…

The London Climate Change Partnership recently published ‘‘Linking Environment and Health: A resource for policy and decision makers working on Joint Strategic Needs Assessment’. The LCCP sets out that “Given the importance of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) in shaping priorities for health and social care investment it is essential that a proper assessment of such environmental factors, which impact on population health and health inequalities, are given real attention and emphasis. Health and Well-being Boards and the Boards of health and care providers will also want to take full account of environmental issues and community capacity when addressing quality and finance challenges.”

The key study looking into these issues was undertaken by the UCL’s Institute of Health Equity. Their key report ‘The Health Impacts of Cold Homes and Fuel Poverty‘ was published in 2011 and can be downloaded here.

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Disabled Facilities Grant to fund heating

April 2013: The Department for Communities and Local Government announced last week new funding to help councils fund the adaptations disabled people need to live independently in their own home. The press release states that “Ministers have protected the Disabled Facilities Grant programme for the last 3 years, with a further £185 million expected in next year’s funding.

Included in eligible types of work for funding are:

  • adapting heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use
  • improving or providing a suitable heating system

A document setting out the allocation awarded to each local authority is provided here. Looking at London councils , it can be seen a total of £23.5m has gone to the capital – a breakdown of each borough’s funding is provided below:

Continue reading…

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