Fuel Poverty

Part of Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 3:28 pm on 21st March 2017.

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Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 3:28 pm, 21st March 2017

I am grateful for the respectful nature of the hon. Gentleman’s question. The answer is simple: it would increase charges to an additional 1.1 million people in his country, and no responsible Government should look on that with favour.

Finally, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough referred rightly to the health effects of fuel poverty, and we, correctly, recognise that issue. She suggested that fuel poverty in homes had risen; I have explained how, in fact, it has fallen broadly since 2010—from roughly 2.49 million to 2.38 million homes. She invites the Government to tackle the root causes of fuel poverty, but that is exactly what we are doing.

Further to my comments about the last Labour Government, it should never be forgotten that the real wages of the bottom third of the population of this country stopped growing in 2003, not in 2008—it was a function not of the financial crash but of a whole series of factors and of bad government, and we should recognise that.

The hon. Lady said the Government need to be more ambitious, and we are being extremely ambitious. We have a transitional arrangement that runs through until September 2018. We then expect a further supplier obligation, on which we will consult later this year, to take us through to 2022.

We know that households living on low incomes are all too often left to live in the coldest and least efficient homes. We know that living in a cold home can have negative implications, to say the least, for health and wellbeing. The official 2016 fuel poverty statistics showed that, despite progress towards the 2020 milestone, with 88% of homes rated E or above in 2014, there remains a significant challenge if we are to make progress to the 2030 fuel poverty target.