Ministers have been accused of ‘throwing in the towel’ on tackling fuel poverty as new analysis reveals almost 95% of families struggling to pay their energy bills will still be in fuel poverty in 2030.
Government plans to upgrade the energy efficiency of UK homes will help less than 6% of fuel poor households by the end of the decade, prompting the threat of legal action by Greenpeace UK.
Government data obtained by Greenpeace under a freedom of information found fuel poverty targets are likely to be missed as current policies would only reduce the number of struggling households that were in fuel poverty in 2020 by 12% up to 2030.
The request also revealed that the government is working from outdated 2020 data collected before the energy crisis.
Since 2021, the rapid increase in wholesale energy prices has pushed millions more households into fuel poverty.
National Energy Action estimates there are now 6.7 million UK households in fuel poverty, a figure which has more than doubled since 2020. This means only 5.8% of fuel poor households would be upgraded by 2030 – leaving nearly 95% of households in fuel poverty.
Legislation was introduced in 2014 to set a target to reduce fuel poverty, where people cannot afford to heat their home to an adequate temperature.
Energy performance certificates (EPC) were introduced in 2007 to measure energy efficiency and are ranked from the most efficient, A to G - which is the least efficient.
Ministers had committed to improve as many fuel poor homes in England as is “reasonably practicable” to a minimum energy efficiency rating of C by the end of 2030.
‘Government has shackled the poorest people to the coldest homes’
Greenpeace sent a letter to energy secretary Grant Shapps saying it would take legal action unless the government committed to reviewing its strategy to tackle fuel poverty and set out how it will hit targets.
Greenpeace UK’s head of climate Mel Evans said: “By throwing in the towel on tackling fuel poverty the government has shackled the poorest people to the coldest homes and the highest bills. Almost a quarter of all households are now in fuel poverty.
“This is a national crisis yet the government’s failing strategy for tackling it means that at this rate it won’t meet its legally binding 2030 target until close to the end of the next century.”
The UK has the least energy efficient housing in western Europe, which means high heating costs for struggling low-income households.
Low energy-efficient housing also means housing is directly responsible for about 14% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions - adding to the climate crisis.
In November, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced he would spend £6.6 billion during this parliament on energy efficiency, and a further £6 billion from 2025.
A government spokesperson said: “The fuel poverty target for England is to ensure that as many fuel poor homes as possible achieve a minimum energy efficiency rating of band C by 2030.
“Thanks to government support, the number of homes with this rating or above has already gone from 13% in 2010 to 46% and rising.”