Energy: Prices

Energy and Climate Change written question – answered on 11th June 2014.

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Photo of Robert Smith Robert Smith Liberal Democrat, West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what plans his Department has to provide assistance to people with cold-related health conditions who are struggling to pay their heating bills.

Photo of Gregory Barker Gregory Barker The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change

The evidence is clear that living in cold homes can have a substantial range of negative health impacts. We have a strong package of policies already delivering assistance to those in need.

These include:

the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) which funds efficient boilers and insulation measures to low income and vulnerable households and is now guaranteed until at least 2017; the Warm Home Discount scheme, which gave over 1.2 million of the lowest income pensioners £135 off their electricity bills in winter 2013-14, and supported more than 2 million households in total;

Winter Fuel and Cold Weather payments which provide support to pensioners and vulnerable low income groups; and the Big Energy Saving Network which is providing outreach to consumers, helping them understand tariffs and switching options as well as how they could benefit from energy efficiency programmes available to them.

In July 2013 DECC published the document Fuel Poverty: a framework for future action, this stated Government's intention to continue to prioritise ‘vulnerable' fuel poor households (ie those containing an elderly person, a child or someone who is long term sick or disabled) within fuel poverty policies.

We have been discussing links between fuel poverty and health with colleagues in the Department of Health, and Public Health England, at all levels, including ministerial, as part of our preparation for a new fuel poverty strategy.

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