Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Energy efficiency and fuel poverty


Report published

The Committee published ' Energy efficiency and fuel poverty', HC 37,  Third Report of Session 2008-09 on Wednesday 10 June 2009.

The Government response was issued as a command paper in October 2009.

The Committee published a Special Report containing written evidence on Thursday 6 November 2008. This was the Fifth Special Report of Session 2007-08, HC 1099.


Committee re-opens Inquiry (November 2008)

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee decided to re-open its inquiry into energy efficiency and fuel poverty in November 2008.

The Committee had discontinued this inquiry after the Prime Minister created a new Department of Energy and Climate Change on 3 October. Responsibility for fuel poverty, previously shared between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, passed to the new Department. As the EFRA Committee’s main role is to scrutinise the work of Defra it felt this was no longer within its remit. However, a subsequent decision by the House meant a new Energy and Climate Change Committee, which would focus on the work of the new Department, would not be set up until January 2009.

Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee the Rt Hon Michael Jack said: “The recent rapid rise in fuel prices along with the Prime Minister’s announcement in September of a package of measure designed to enable households to improve the energy efficiency of their homes made the need for scrutiny of these issues a pressing one. The Committee feels it should re-open this inquiry now instead of waiting to see if it is a subject picked up by the new Committee in January.”

The Committee published a Special Report containing the written evidence the Committee has received on energy efficiency and fuel poverty on 6 November 2008 (see above).


Government energy efficiency package announcement

On 11 September the Prime Minister announced a package of measures to enable households to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.   Information on this package can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2008/080911a.htm

As it related closely to the inquiry’s terms of reference the Committee requested that written submissions could, if possible, take into account the announcement made on 11 September. 


Terms of reference (July 2008)

Further to the Committee's press notice of 28th February 2008 inviting interested parties to help devise the scope of its proposed inquiry into energy efficiency and fuel poverty, the Committee decided to examine the UK Energy Efficiency Action Plan, with particular reference to Defra's efforts to improve households' energy efficiency and its statutory duty under the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 to ensure that, as far as reasonably practicable, people in England do not live in fuel poverty*.

The Committee will consider in particular the following:

1. Defra's Departmental Report 2008 shows slippage against PSA 7 on eliminating fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010, with a rise in the number of households in fuel poverty. Does Defra need to redefine its approaches to ensure it meets the statutory 2010 target?

2. How effectively can policies aimed at addressing the energy efficiency of dwellings tackle fuel poverty, given recent rapid increases in fuel prices, and how can strategies be developed to join up energy efficiency approaches with those on fuel prices and income maximisation?

3. Does the UK Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2007** give sufficient weight to the need to address fuel poverty as well as tackle greenhouse gas emissions through increased use of energy efficiency measures?

4. What should be the comparative contribution of government and energy supply industry programmes to achieving fuel poverty objectives, and what levels of investment are required (for example for Warm Front, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and the Supplier Obligation post 2011)? How can these programmes be better integrated?

5. What should the longer term strategies be, in particular for those in the social housing sector after Decent Homes***, and what role should the energy supply industry have post CERT (post 2011)?

6. How can we make greater progress on hard to treat homes (for example solid wall properties or those not connected to mains gas supplies)?

7. How should smart metering, new technologies and microgeneration be deployed and incentivised in fuel poverty approaches? Is there sufficient scope in current approaches to apply the most appropriate solutions?

8. Is there a problem identifying those who are already, or are at risk of becoming, fuel poor, and how can data sharing across the public and private sector be improved so that assistance can be targetted?

9. What are the specific issues for new homes and how can strategies ensure that all new homes minimise the potential for occupiers to experience fuel poverty?

10. How does the Winter Fuel Payment system impact on fuel poverty and could this funding be better utilised to tackle the underlying issues leading to households becoming fuel poor?

The Committee invited all interested parties to address these matters in writing. The deadline for submissions has passed.

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* The Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act was passed in 2000 committing the government to the legally binding targets of eradicating fuel poverty in England among the vulnerable-pensioners, the disabled and long-term ill by 2010. By 2016-18 the government is committed to eradicating fuel poverty across the UK.

** The UK Energy Efficiency Action Plan sets out policies on how the UK will meet the EU Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive target of a 9% energy saving by 2016.

*** Further to the Committee's press notice of 28th February 2008 inviting interested parties to help devise the scope of its proposed inquiry into energy efficiency and fuel poverty, the Committee has now decided to examine the UK Energy Efficiency Action Plan, with particular reference to Defra's efforts to improve households' energy efficiency and its statutory duty under the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 to ensure that, as far as reasonably practicable, people in England do not live in fuel poverty.


Original invitation to help frame EFRA Committee inquiry (February 2008)

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has decided to examine the UK Energy Efficiency Action Plan, with particular reference to Defra's efforts to improve households' energy efficiency and its statutory duty under the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 to ensure that, as far as reasonably practicable, people in England do not live in fuel poverty after November 2016.  This will build on some of the Committee's work during its inquiry into Climate change: the "citizen's agenda".

The EFRA Committee invited interested parties to help devise the scope of the inquiry by suggesting areas which the Committee could usefully examine, particularly those where they believed that Defra policy was still weak.  The deadline for the submission of suggestions was Wednesday 2 April 2008. 


Oral evidence

Wednesday 14 January 2009 
Joan Ruddock MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change

Monday 15 December 2008
Consumer Focus

Wednesday 10 December 2008
E.ON UK, RWE nPower and Centrica; Ofgem

Monday 8 December 2008
Fuel Poverty Advisory Group and Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford; National Energy Action and National Right to Fuel Campaign


Press notices

10/06/09 Report published
21/05/09 Report to be published
17/12/08 Evidence session announced
25/11/08 Evidence sessions announced
06/11/08 Inquiry re-opened
16/10/08 Special report to be published
11/09/08 Inquiry refocused in light of Government announcement
17/07/08 Inquiry update and call for evidence
28/02/08 Invitation to help frame inquiry