Construction bodies and companies are being urged to throw their weight behind a campaign to alleviate fuel poverty. Transform UK, the organiser of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, said the newly launched Green Deal would do little to tackle fuel poverty and is calling on the government to ringfence the cash collected in carbon taxes to provide grants to make the UK’s housing stock more energy efficient and reduce fuel bills for every household in the UK.
There are 6.3 million households in the UK in fuel poverty, where more than 10% of income is spent on energy bills. By 2016 the campaign group is forecasting that this will be as many as 9.1 million, or one in three households.
Ed Matthew, director of Transform UK, said he would be writing to construction firms and bodies in the next few weeks to muster their support. Transform UK, the campaigning wing of the environmental think tank E3G, successfully campaigned for the setting up of the Green Investment Bank.
So far over 120 organisations have backed the Energy Bill Revolution, ranging from Age Concern to Shelter to IKEA. A number of construction firms, including Willmott Dixon and Carillion, are signatories, as is the UK Green Building Council in what Matthew has described as the biggest ever anti-fuel poverty alliance.
At the moment £2bn a year is raised in carbon taxes levied on energy companies which are recovered in fuel bills, but this could rise to £4bn a year over the next 15 years said Matthew.
He acknowledged that the government’s launching of the Green Deal and ECO was likely to make them reluctant to introduce more measures, but said: “This is not an either or; energy efficiency needs to be tackled on all fronts as is the case in countries like France and Germany through loans and grants. Many of those households in fuel poverty do not want to take out a loan and the ECO is only available to a few house holds.” He also claimed that subsidy on the fuel poor had actually gone down by 26%.
If carbon tax was ploughed into alleviating fuel poverty the cash could be given to councils to upgrade homes road by road and help create thousands of jobs.
“If the carbon revenue is so invested it could create up to 71,000 jobs by 2015 and up to 130,000 jobs by 2027. It will also remove 87% of the 9.1 million households projected to be in fuel poverty in 2016 from that risk and reduce energy bills in all treated homes by over £200 a year.”
A similar system is operating in France Germany and the Netherlands, where money is ringfenced from carbon taxes and spent on mitigating against climate change.