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Tackling fuel poverty

Government to review ‘unlawful’ fuel poverty strategy following Greenpeace pressure
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Close-up of mature man's hand on a radiator as he tries to keep warm during a cost of living crisis

The government has accepted that it will carry out a review into its strategy for upgrading the homes of fuel-poor households, after ministers provided information which suggests they will fail to meet a legal target to lift millions of struggling households out of fuel poverty.

Last month, in response to an FOI request made by Greenpeace UK, the government conceded that policies and schemes currently in place to improve the energy efficiency of homes would only reduce fuel poverty by 12% against 2020 levels by 2030 – despite a deadline in UK law to significantly reduce fuel poverty by then.

The government’s inaction on fuel poverty was seen as potentially unlawful by Greenpeace’s lawyers, prompting the threat of legal action unless the government carried out an immediate review into its strategy for tackling fuel poverty.

In a letter responding to Greenpeace UK, the Government Legal Department has stated that the Secretary of State has ‘decided to commence a process of reviewing and assessing the implementing measures taken under the 2021 [Fuel Poverty] Strategy, with a view to informing the development of a further revised strategy.’

‘Epidemic levels’ of fuel poverty

While the government has now promised to review the failing strategy, and carry out a public consultation on any proposed revisions, it has yet to confirm any dates for when the review will be carried out, published or any further decisions made.

Greenpeace UK has reserved the right to commence legal proceedings until the government provides concrete timeframes.

‘Fuel poverty has reached epidemic levels in the UK but the government just turned its back, leaving millions out in the cold. It shouldn’t have required legal action to force the government to provide people with a basic human need.

‘Ministers now need to get on with the job. We urgently need to see policies and cash to roll out a nationwide insulation and green heating scheme at the same speed and scale of the Covid vaccine programme. 

‘Done right, this has the potential to lift millions out of fuel poverty and tackle the cost of living, energy and climate crises at the same time as creating new jobs, easing inflation and boosting the economy.’

Greenpeace UK’s head of UK climate

Energy in rented properties

Greenpeace UK is now considering whether to take further legal action against the government for failing to require private rental landlords to improve the energy performance rating of their properties to a minimum of EPC B and C, to lift more renters out of fuel poverty.

Any minimum energy efficiency standards announced for the private rented sector must come with government funding, otherwise it’s likely that rents will be increased and costs passed on to fuel-poor renters who are already struggling with household bills.

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