Fuel Poverty Strategy for England: consultation response

Published: 17 September 2019


Energy Systems Catapult has responded to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) consultation on proposals to update the 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy for England.

Fuel poverty is defined in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 as:

  • “a person [who] is a member of a household living on a lower income in a home which cannot be kept warm at reasonable cost”.

In 2014, the government introduced in legislation a fuel poverty target for England to improve as many fuel poor homes as is reasonably practicable to a minimum energy efficiency rating of Band C, by the end of 2030.

BEIS are looking to update the fuel poverty strategy for England. This consultation has two aims:

  • to publish an assessment of the implementation of the 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy so far;
  • to seek views on proposals to update the fuel poverty strategy.

Key points

Energy Systems Catapult’s response to the consultation includes:

  • The energy system is undergoing fundamental change, driven by the need to decarbonise, along with the advent of new more decentralised and digitalised technologies. Within this context, the Government’s Fuel Poverty Strategy must ensure that:
    • fuel poor and vulnerable energy consumers are not adversely impacted by the transition to a low carbon future within a smarter, more flexible energy system
    • new technologies and innovations are harnessed to meet the needs of fuel poor and vulnerable groups
    • energy policies and market arrangements support the delivery of a transition that is ‘fair and perceived to be fair’[1] as the UK moves towards a net zero future.
  • The Catapult believes there is substantial scope to harness new technologies and service propositions to deliver better outcomes to consumers, including fuel poor and vulnerable groups with specific needs. New technology can enable better targeting of energy services to specific consumer needs, better integration of energy services with the specifics of building fabric, improved control for consumers (of cost and service outcomes) and much deeper understanding of consumer needs.  All of these are highly relevant to delivering improved access to high quality energy services for fuel poor and vulnerable customers. The Catapult is working with the sector to design innovation that better supports those in fuel poverty through a programme of work, Fair Futures[2]. Projects within this programme range from developing new propositions, improving customer handling procedures and meeting new policy obligations and changes.
  • Fundamental change in the energy system and energy markets is driving change in fuel poverty risks (see section on ‘Addressing changing fuel poverty risks’ below)
  • The Government should consider an additional guiding principle for the fuel poverty strategy, that action should be informed by deep and up to date understanding of vulnerable consumers’ needs and experiences, including evidence built through innovative experimental approaches, co-design and testing.
    • With this in mind, there is a strong case for creating a large scale ‘Living Lab’ to provide a safe, test and demonstration facility for new energy products, service propositions and new regulatory and market arrangements. This would enable fuel poverty strategy development to be informed by practical trials and experimentation with consumers in real homes, reducing the risk of unanticipated consequences.

[1] Net Zero The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming, Committee on Climate Change, May 2019

[2] More information can be found on our Fair Futures impact here.