Fuel poverty – the next steps?

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The Coalition Government devolved the delivery of fuel poverty policy to the energy supply industry by introducing the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to the household names in the energy supply business. Via their licence to supply, they are obligated to reduce domestic carbon emissions (ie help households to use less energy) by the most cost-effective method.

Scaling back of the Energy Company Obligation 

This turned out to be a programme which added about 5% to gas bills and about 11% to electricity bills  yielding some £1bn per year for remedial fuel poverty work. As global energy prices rose, these ‘extras’ on gas and electricity bills came into the firing line, and the Government scaled back ECO in 2013. With no tax-funded programme in play, and what is effectively a cap on what it obliges energy companies to do, the outlook for those in fuel poverty is bleak.  Continue reading “Fuel poverty – the next steps?”

A political certainty in 2015? From Localism to Devolution

This week we have a blog post from Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser, at Age UK. 

Even before the Scottish referendum campaign, there was a growing surge of interest in more devolution. It is a theme supported by all of the political parties. It is presented as the most promising way to get appropriate policies and practices implemented across areas and communities with widely varying needs, and also as a key to local economic regeneration and growth.

The early days of the Coalition were characterised by an enthusiasm for localism and the Big Society, and the burst of legislative activity linked to this was in some respects the harbinger of the deeper devolution idea. Conservative distain for ‘big government’ and Liberal instincts for local democracy came together serendipitously.   We had local government given a ‘general power of competence’, and neighbourhoods were empowered to develop local plans (to address spatial planning and planning permission issues) and eventually to draw up neighbourhood or community budgets. We have the Community Right to Challenge (for the delivery of public services), the Community Right to Build (if approved by a local referendum), and the Right to Bid for community assets. Continue reading “A political certainty in 2015? From Localism to Devolution”

Green Deal performing poorly

At the heart of Age UK’s Warm Homes Campaign lies the conviction that the best way to insulate people from remorseless increases in energy costs and the health risks posed by cold homes is a major house refurbishment programme. The Green Deal was intended to drive that work – and upgrade 4m homes by 2020 – but the six month figures for the scheme are hapless, and we see no room for optimism any time soon.

As of mid-October, there are 219 Green Deal schemes in operation. True, there is a upstream pipeline of house surveys completed and Green Deal plans in preparation, but older householders seem rather underwhelmed. Whilst one in ten say their homes were not warm enough last winter and they would benefit from improved energy efficiency measures, 70% said they would not want a550x280_thermostat_lady Green Deal. The most frequently cited reasons were aversion to debt, and seeing the ‘loan’ repayment scheme as too expensive.   Continue reading “Green Deal performing poorly”