Fuel Poverty

Energy Security and Net Zero – in the House of Commons at on 27 February 2024.

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Photo of Kate Hollern Kate Hollern Labour, Blackburn

What estimate she has made of the number of households in fuel poverty in winter 2023-24.

Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central

What estimate she has made of the number of households in fuel poverty in winter 2023-24.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows Scottish National Party, Motherwell and Wishaw

What steps she is taking to support households in fuel poverty during winter.

Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

What estimate she has made of the number of households in fuel poverty in winter 2023-24.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Labour, Manchester, Gorton

What estimate she has made of the number of households in fuel poverty in winter 2023-24.

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

Fuel poverty is a devolved matter. The latest figures, published on 15 February 2024, showed that 3.17 million households were in fuel poverty in 2023. The Government continue to deliver financial support to low-income homes and vulnerable households through the warm home discount scheme and cost of living payments.

Photo of Kate Hollern Kate Hollern Labour, Blackburn

As I am sure you are aware, Mr Speaker, the cost of living crisis is far from over for constituents in our area. The Government’s latest energy efficiency policy, the Great British insulation scheme, was supposed to insulate 100,000 homes a year, but so far just 3,000 families have been helped in eight months, including only 35 homes in Lancashire and just six in Blackburn. Will the Minister explain why currently it will take 60 years to meet their three-year target?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

Energy efficiency is incredibly important to this Government and we have many schemes available. The Great British insulation scheme alone has committed £592 million.

Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Labour, Sheffield Central

I hear what the Minister says about the Great British insulation scheme. It comes after the green deal and the green homes grant, but frankly it looks like another failure. There are 1.4 million people living in South Yorkshire, but just 137 of their homes have been upgraded under the GBIS. My constituents want their bills cut, emissions reduced and their homes insulated, but Government incompetence is standing in the way. When will the Minister get a grip?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

We are spending £6 billion in this Parliament and a further £6 billion up to 2028 to make buildings, including private rented properties, cleaner and warmer. That is in addition to the estimated £5 billion that will be delivered for ECO4—the energy company obligation—and the Great British insulation scheme up to March 2026.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows Scottish National Party, Motherwell and Wishaw

Over the past two years, my constituents in Motherwell and Wishaw, as well as the disability groups that I engage with, have told me harrowing tales of dire fuel poverty and energy debt, while the energy giants post record profits. Even with the new price cap, National Energy Action estimates that there will be 6 million UK households in fuel poverty, with energy debt sitting at £6 billion. After April, the only support available will be the £150 warm home discount, which has barely been increased in a decade. When will the Government take meaningful action and finally consult on an energy social tariff?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

Last winter, this Government delivered £40 billion for households and businesses. We also have the warm home discount, the winter fuel payment and the disability cost of living payment. We are committed to ensuring that affordability is top of our list in relation to energy security.

Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

We have had 14 years of fiasco after fiasco with energy saving schemes from this Government. Frankly, my constituents are fed up with it. In Gateshead, just seven homes have been upgraded under the Government’s latest energy efficiency scheme. Can the Minister say why this is such a disaster and why progress is so slow?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

We continue to drive energy efficiency improvements for lower-income and fuel-poor households, through schemes including the energy company obligation, the social housing decarbonisation scheme and the homes upgrade grant.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Labour, Manchester, Gorton

A recent report from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit exposes the Government’s record on insulation and says that the Government’s false claims about their success mostly involved taking credit for schemes that were a legacy of the last Labour Government. A record low of around 80,000 measures were installed in total under the Government’s programmes in 2022. Is not the truth that this Government are failing millions of people in fuel poverty?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

This Government have provided unprecedented support for people in this country. I have regular meetings with stakeholders, charities and different organisations. Undoubtedly, we are making sure that people have support through, as I have mentioned, the warm home discount, the energy price cap and lots of other payments, such as the cost of living payment of £900 per annum.

Photo of Andrea Jenkyns Andrea Jenkyns Conservative, Morley and Outwood

Talking of fuel poverty, the boiler tax results in consumers paying an extra £150 when they purchase a new boiler. Does the Minister agree that it is now time to ditch these unworkable and unaffordable net zero policies and let the British people decide how to heat their homes and what cars to drive so that they can keep more of their own money?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

No decision has yet been taken on that, but we have a commitment to ensure that we get the very best deal for all our constituents.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

A year ago, the then Energy Secretary said that if suppliers had wrongly installed prepayment meters in any home, they would have to recompense their customers for the way they had behaved. One year later, can the Minister tell the House how many individuals who had a prepayment meter wrongly installed have had compensation, how many are yet to receive it and, of those still waiting, when they will get the compensation?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

One thing on which we can all agree across the House is that it was absolutely abhorrent that people had prepayment meters forced on them. We are working our way through the compensation, but I can assure Members that we are doing everything we can to ensure that, when prepayment meters are installed, we are doing exactly the right thing to make sure that everybody is kept safe.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Climate Change and Net Zero)

I asked the Minister three questions but did not get an answer to any of them. Perhaps she can put the figures in the House of Commons Library, because she clearly does not have a clue what they are.

More than 3 million households are in debt to their energy suppliers and almost 10 million households are living in cold, damp and poorly insulated homes. The Great British insulation scheme is proving to be a great Tory insulation fiasco. Will the Minister tell me why the insulation scheme is proving to be such a disaster?

Photo of Amanda Solloway Amanda Solloway Government Whip, Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

We have taken great steps to support people. For example, last winter we gave unprecedented support to households and businesses. Of course, debt is a major concern, and I have regular meetings with stakeholders to ensure that we are doing the very best not only to get people out of debt, but to prevent them getting into debt in the first place.