Millions of struggling families will miss out on a Government fund to help those who cannot afford to heat their homes – despite the fact they will have to pay a surcharge on their energy bills to fund it, council leaders have said.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, today warned that the Government’s forthcoming Green Deal would leave some of the country’s most vulnerable families out in the cold and could increase fuel poverty.
Current proposals – set to come into effect in October – would prohibit social housing landlords and tenants applying for money made available under the new Affordable Warmth Target fund.
Householders will be able to apply for money from the fund to pay for home improvements like loft and wall insulation which will reduce energy use and deliver savings on their bills. But the money will only be available to people who own or rent their home privately.
Council leaders have warned this could hinder the ability of local authorities to help families and residents in social housing who are on low incomes, in fuel poverty and vulnerable to the effects of the cold.
It would come as a double blow to tenants, tens of thousands of whom have just had solar panel installations scrapped as a result of government Feed-in Tariff cuts.
The Affordable Warmth Target is an obligation on energy suppliers to reduce the heating bills of those most vulnerable to cold. The money to pay for this is taken from everyone’s energy bills – including those of social tenants.
In a response to the Government’s consultation submitted this week, the LGA said that councils believe the Green Deal has the potential to help improve the energy efficiency of homes across the country and cut energy bills for residents and businesses, but only if money is distributed fairly.
The LGA is also calling for safeguards to be put in place to ensure energy companies are obliged to work with those less well-off to deliver their carbon reduction obligation. Up to now energy companies have been able to cherry pick properties who are able to pay the most towards any improvements carried out.