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Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published the Fifth Carbon Budget at the end of last month. The CCC was established to advise the UK government and devolved bodies on meeting future carbon targets. It makes for an interesting read but beneath the surface, there is some unpalatable news for the politicians on fuel poverty.

Fuel poverty has been around for years - rising from 3.3 million households in 2007 to 4.5 million in 2013. But the bad news continues. Looking at the targets for devolved administrations, we can see just how far they are from succeeding. In Scotland, 39 per cent of households are in fuel poverty, with politicians looking to November 2016 to "eradicate fuel poverty as far as reasonably practical". In Wales, 30 per cent of households are in fuel poverty, with a promise to "eradicate fuel poverty by 2018" and in Northern Ireland, 42 per cent are in fuel poverty and their politicians promised to "eradicate fuel poverty by 2016". Frankly, sorry to be blunt, but fat chance of any keeping their promise.

Well what of the CCC and the Fifth Carbon Budget? Now you have to read the document carefully - the actual words really matter. So I'll quote directly:-

"If all fuel poor households received a targeted share of the energy efficiency and low-carbon heat measures included in our carbon budget scenarios, UK fuel poverty levels could be reduced to 3.3 million by 2030".

Yes, that's right; with correct targeting the UK might get fuel poverty back to the 2007 level in another 15 years. If that doesn't send a message to politicians what will? Fifteen more years to get back to where we were 8 years ago.

But it gets worse. The CCC goes on to say:-

"For energy efficiency measures, this would require funding of around £1.4 billion per year, a level which was achieved under ECO until its scope was reduced in 2014".

The day before this Fifth Carbon Budget was published, the Government scrapped ECO from 2017 and announced that its replacement would contribute only a third of the original scheme. The conclusion is obvious and damning. The risible reduction by 2030 will not be funded. What hope of eradicating fuel poverty in the UK, the fifth richest country in the world?

Best wishes, 

Mike Foster CE

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