1. Fuel Poverty Definition and Targeting
NRFC wants those who are most vulnerable not to be excluded under the new definition of fuel poverty. NRFC wants to target inclusion via doorstep assessment and ensure that social tariffs are offered to all of those households that are in the most need. Click here to read more.
Read George Phillips’ think piece on A National Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Plan
2. Health and Fuel Poverty
NRFC wants to promote the environmental and health benefits of reducing fuel poverty. We want to promote partnership working with health authorities to ensure that tackling fuel poverty is high on their agenda. Click here to read more.
Read John Kolm-Murray’s think piece Warm Homes for Health
3. Smart Metering and Prepayment Tariffs
The NRFC wants to explore the role of competition and innovation in the energy supply sector in addressing fuel poverty and ensuring the right to a warm, dry, well lit home. Click here to read more
Read Tim Smith’s think piece on Smart Metering and Prepayment
The launch of these campaigns is underway. Please keep checking back for details, and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.
Getting Smart About Data
Following on from our successful Smart meter campaign in 2012, the NRFC is again working with charities, community groups and local authorities to help Government to implement policies that will most efficiently reduce the number of homes affected by fuel poverty.
In 2013, we are calling on Government to reconsider its approach to targeting fuel measures at those who are most in need of help with their energy bills. To do this our members believe that the Government should: (i) help the energy sector to make better use of data; and (ii) develop a practical fuel poverty definition, one which will enables a household to be easily identified by charities, local authorities or energy services companies as being in or out of ‘fuel poverty’.
As tax payers and energy customers, we are all helping to support the costs of fuel poverty measures, such as the warm homes discount or energy company obligation. The NRFC believes that this could be done more effectively and cheaply if the Government were to use better data matching techniques and to adopt a more practical fuel poverty definition and assessment tool.
Between 2011-2012, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) delivered £84 million of winter fuel discounts to pensioners, a leap from 5 to 85% of this vulnerable consumer people receiving discounted energy tariffs and rebates. All of this was done without any additional action from these struggling households. Instead, two government departments — the DWP and DECC – worked together with energy suppliers to set up an independent and high security team who collated data to identify those in greatest need of additional winter fuel discounts under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
On the 23 April we are holding a stakeholder forum in Parliament to assess the benefits of better data matching. Supported by RWE nPower this event will provide energy experts, data protection professionals and policy makers to assess the benefits risks and barriers associated with this approach.
Getting Smart About Energy
Smart meters may not sound like the sexiest political issue, but £12billion of investment is finally generating some hard questions in Westminster, says Steve Barwick.
The National Right to Fuel Campaign hosted a well attended, early morning, roundtable session on the 6th December that allowed key stakeholders to put under the microscope plans to roll out smart energy meters to 25 million households at a cost of £12 billion.
The first, and possibly the only easy, question was – who will pay? Answer? You. The investment, which dwarfs the proposed £1.3billion expenditure on insulation and indeed the north sea gas retrofitting in the seventies, will be recouped through additions to customers’ bills. Exactly how much – and when – was less clear.
It was also not clear precisely what the purpose is. It will certainly herald the introduction of ‘time of use’ tarrifs so that the customer pays more when energy is in high demand and less at other times, with the idea being that users who are aware of their usage (through an in-house display) will reduce it and/or switch supplier.
Yet a number of contributors suggested that if the goal is a reduction in usage and, potentially, the bills for those in fuel poverty, then there may be more cost effective ways of delivering those results. Others – for example Which? – claim that pilot schemes have shown that there is still an argument with regards to what will be shown on in-house displays – just the price per unit or the balance left in their account?
Against a background of rising fuel poverty – well explained by UNISON’s Mike Jeram, who reported that 25% of all households are now technically fuel poor and that a 1% increase in energy prices would bring another 60,000 households into that definition – a DECC senior civil servant stated that Government is committed to all benefitting from the smart meter roll out, including the fuel poor such as those currently on prepayment meters.
National Energy Action raised questions regarding ‘switching’ suppliers, which they suggest cannot be the principal policy of the Government when it comes to helping people with energy bills. It was also pointed out that 48% of current switchers actually end up with a higher tarrif.
NPower highlighted the scale of the task. To fit two meters plus an inhouse display and communication system as well as explain the process to the householder will probably take 90 minutes if there are no complications. One study has suggested that there could, however, be complications in up to 22% of households.
It is clear that, in order to benefit, many people in fuel poverty will need support and Consumer Focus suggested an ‘Extra Help’ scheme for vulnerable customers. It is equally clear that there is a long way to go in this debate but the audience endorsed the report published today – along with its seven recommendations – as a useful contribution to an important debate that is really only just starting.
You can download our SMART meter report here.