Select Committee on Trade and Industry Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence



APPENDIX 9

Memorandum by the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group

  1.  The Government's UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, published in November 2001, established a national goal ``to seek an end to the problem of fuel poverty''. To help facilitate this process, the Government has established a new Fuel Poverty Advisory Group with a specific remit to ``look at issues relating to the delivery of measures to tackle fuel poverty'' (paragraph 4.36 of the Strategy document). The Group's agreed terms of reference (see Annex A) are wide-ranging and embrace the spectrum of fuel poverty activity.

  2.  Peter Lehmann, Chairman of the Energy Saving Trust, was appointed as Chairman of the Group on 22 January 2002; and the organisations forming the membership of the Group were formally announced on 15 March 2002. These comprise a wide range of bodies from the energy sector, local government, the health sector, and NGOs with an interest in fuel poverty. All were asked to ensure high-level representation, to provide appropriate expertise and experiene for the Group's work. A list of the organisations and their nominated representatives is at Annex B.

  3.  The Group will look at existing policies and programmes and will develop a view as to their relevance and effectiveness, focusing particularly on gaps in provision. This will include policies which are particularly challenging. Specific topics agreed for discussion include:

    —  hard-to-heat-homes (eg solid walls, no loft space);

    —  help for the fuel poor outside the gas network;

    —  under-occupancy (ie homes too large for immediate needs and difficult to heat);

    —  energy efficiency improvement in the private rented sector;

    —  monitoring of energy company initiatives;

    —  improvement of co-ordination between schemes at regional and national level, to maximise the benefit for clients and to ensure that demand for services is smoothed and value for money for scheme funders achieved;

    —  whether significant numbers of fuel poor households fall outside the scope of existing programmes, in terms both of households not helped (eg people on low incomes but not on benefit, or people just above the benefit threshold), or of building types not catered for;

    —  a preliminary review of other relevant programmes and policies such as housing and regeneration;

    —  lessons for the Energy Efficiency Commitment on energy suppliers (a legal obligation from 1 April 2002 to improve the energy efficiency of their customer base, with a focus on low-income households), arising from the earlier Standards of Performance (a similar requirement, but set by the energy regulator);

    —  assessment of the progress of the Warm Zones (five pilot projects to assess the benefits of proactive outreach approach to tackle fuel poverty in a small defined area);

    —  the identification of healthy adult-only (that is, non-vulnerable) fuel poor households and schemes to help them;

    —  better dissemination of energy advice.

  4.  The Group will report to Government annually, and that report will be published as part of the Government's own annual report of progress on tackling fuel poverty.

  5.  The Group held its first meeting on 12 March 2002, and agreed its terms of reference and its future work programme set out above. Other topics discussed at that meeting included:

    —  Skills shortage in gas engineering: there was discussion of DfES plans to develop access to gas training in local technical colleges as part of mainstream education. Concerns were expressed about whether trainees would actually get jobs at the end of their training: and the Group looked at whether some Government-sponsored programmes could be used to encourage employers to take on trainees;

    —  DTLR "Decent Homes" standard: The Government is committed to improving all social housing to a decent standard by 2010, which includes an appropriate level of thermal comfort. The revised definition and guidance from DTLR were discussed. The Group stressed the importance of high energy efficiency in social housing as an element of tackling fuel poverty, and agreed to keep in touch with DTLR on this;

    —  Households without access to gas: Mains gas is generally the cheapest fuel for heating, and a Government/industry working group had concluded that 100,000 households could be removed from fuel poverty by extending the network. This would need Government funding, either for extending the network or for other measures for homes outside the network.

  6.  A further five meetings are expected to be held during the calendar year 2002.

  7.  The Group would be pleased to provide any further information on its activities that the Committee might require, and would also be pleased to provide oral evidence to the inquiry.

Peter Lehmann

Chairman

Fuel Poverty Advisory Group

Annex A

 

FUEL POVERTY ADVISORY GROUP: TERMS OF REFERENCE

  The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group is an Advisory Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by DEFRA/DTI. Its primary task is to report on the progress of delivery of the Government's Fuel Poverty Strategy and to propose and implement improvements to regional or local mechanisms for its delivery.

  The Group is to consist of a chairman and senior representatives from organisations such as the energy industry, charities and consumer bodies. These members would be representatives, ex officio members rather than individuals, who should be able to take a broad and impartial view.

  The role of the Group is:

    —  To consider and report on the effectiveness of current policies in delivering reductions in fuel poverty at regional and local levels.

    —  To identify barriers to the delivery of reductions in fuel poverty and to the development of effective partnerships, and propose solutions.

    —  To consider and report on any additional policies needed to deliver the Government's targets.

    —  To enthuse, and encourage, key players to tackle fuel poverty.

    —  To consider and report on the results of the work to monitor fuel poverty.

Annex B

 

MEMBERSHIP OF FUEL POVERTY ADVISORY GROUP

Chairman: Peter Lehmann, Chairman, Energy Saving Trust

MEMBER ORGANISATIONS



Nominated Representative

Position in organisation

Association for the Conservation of Energy

Jerry Robson

Member of ACE Governing Council

Centrica

Mark Clare

Managing Director, British Gas

EAGA

John Clough

Chief Executive

Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes

John Chesshire

Chairman

energywatch

Ann Robinson

Chair

Help the Aged

Mervyn Kohler

Head of Public Affairs

Innogy

Brian Count

Chief Executive Officer

Local Government Association

John Hannam

Income Maintenance Advisor

National Energy Action

William Gillis

Chief Executive

National Heart Forum

Noel Olsen

 

Public Utilities Access Forum

Gill Owen

Chair

Transco

Rob Verrion

Chief Operating Officer

TXU

Roger Partington

Executive Vice President, TXU Energy

 

 


 
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