Posted: Mon 22nd Jan 2024

Millions priced out of essential warm home measures as government distracted by oil and gas bill

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Jan 22nd, 2024

Nearly four in 10 UK households (39%) say they cannot afford to insulate their homes, according to new data commissioned by the Warm This Winter coalition.

Campaigners are now demanding the UK Government urgently refocus its efforts on boosting energy-saving measures, rather than new oil and gas drilling.

UK Government plans to introduce annual oil and gas licensing rounds, which will be debated in Parliament today, have been widely panned as a political gimmick.

The start of this year saw energy bills increase by a further £94 for the average household.

Half of all Londoners (50%) say that they cannot afford energy efficiency measures, the highest in the country, followed by households in Wales (46%) and Yorkshire and Humber (45%).

Just over a third (35%) of people living in the South East say they would financially struggle to pay for energy saving measures.

And, the UK has some of the leakiest homes in Europe, with the majority rated EPC Band D or below and around a fifth of homes have no roof insulation, leaving consumers paying higher energy bills for colder homes.

Upgrading inefficient homes to EPC band C would collectively save consumers £24 billion on their energy bills by 2030.

It would also give the UK more energy independence as insulation lowers the amount of gas required to heat homes, and gas will increasingly come from abroad as the North Sea continues its decline.

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has acknowledged that new oil and gas licensing will not lower energy bills or significantly boost UK energy security. Currently, 70% of the North Sea’s remaining resources are oil, most of which is exported. Studies reveal that oil from new licences would contribute less than 1% to UK petrol supplies by 2030.

Analysts have pointed out the slow pace of the government’s flagship ‘Great British Insulation Scheme’, which installed just over 1,000 energy efficiency measures between March and October 2023. At this rate, it would take 190 years to upgrade the country’s energy efficiency.

Campaigners have been vocal in their criticism. Tessa Khan, executive director of Uplift, emphasizes the government’s misplaced focus on oil and gas drilling over energy efficiency, which she argues is the quickest and cheapest way to address the current crisis.

Holly Brazier Tope, a spokesperson for the Green Alliance, highlights the government’s neglect of energy efficiency and renewable energy in favor of a bill that she describes as more about securing a political soundbite than tackling the energy crisis.

‍Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, also commented:

“While households struggle in cold, damp, mouldy homes and struggle to pay their bills, Ministers are sitting on their hands.

“They refused to introduce an Emergency Energy Tariff for vulnerable households and have refused to set up an industry wide scheme to help people repay their energy debts.

“Instead, they have allowed energy firms to restart using the courts to force households onto prepayment meters and have now ruled out reform to energy tariffs to help those most in need.

“What we need to see is urgent action on energy bills and the cost of insulation. But Ministers would rather play politics with a ridiculous Oil & Gas Licensing Bill that will do nothing to improve energy security or lower bills.”



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