Fuel Poverty: North-East

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 11th June 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Hepburn Stephen Hepburn Labour, Jarrow

What recent steps he has taken to tackle fuel poverty in the north-east.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

As my right hon. Friend Claire Perry has taken temporary ministerial leave of absence on compassionate grounds, I shall be answering all the questions relating to energy and clean growth today.

The Government made a manifesto commitment to tackle fuel poverty by upgrading fuel-poor homes to energy efficiency band C by 2030. Nearly 800,000 fewer fuel-poor households are living in the least efficient homes than was the case in 2010. We have also refocused the Government’s energy company obligation, and thousands of homes in the north-east have been improved as a result.

Photo of Stephen Hepburn Stephen Hepburn Labour, Jarrow

Because of cruel Tory benefit changes and rip-off prices, fuel poverty in Jarrow has increased by 35% under this Government. Is the Minister proud of the choice that the Tories have given people, between heating and eating?

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

It should be borne in mind that the fuel poverty metric is relative, which means that the number of people in fuel poverty will always fluctuate between 10% and 12%. It is important to focus on the average fuel poverty gap, which fell to £326 in 2016 from £341 in 2015.

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

We have been making good progress in reducing fuel poverty in Cornwall, but we could really do with some help with supercharging that progress. When will the Government publish their plan to deliver the excellent home energy efficiency targets in the clean growth strategy? If we could do that, it would save people, on average, about £400 a year.