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UK may draft a new law on energy poverty

22 August 2023

Voices across the energy industry of UK are calling on the Government to establish a “social energy tariff”, offering vulnerable households discounts on their bills, writes The Guardian.

Almost 100 charities and non-profit organisations have written to ministers urging them to move quickly to bring the idea into legislation. The plans also have industry backing. Unlike the price cap, this measure could go beyond making sure that bills are “fair” by ensuring that they are affordable for the most vulnerable in society too. Until recently, ministers appeared to be listening. The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, promised in his autumn statement last year that the government would “develop a new approach to consumer protection in energy markets” by working with consumer groups and industry “to consider the best approach, including options such as social tariffs”.

Others in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet – including the prime minister himself – offered repeated assurances that the government would consider a social tariff within its wider retail market reforms. However, when the consultations emerged last month, any mention of one had disappeared.

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, fears the government has abandoned its promises. In a letter to members of parliament, seen by the Observer, he calls on MPs to pile pressure on the secretary of state to consider a social tariff.

“This is especially important for older and disabled people, those with health conditions, families with young children, unpaid carers, those on lower incomes and fuel-poor households,” Francis said.

An estimated 1.7m households which are in fuel poverty could be left without any support simply because they are not in receipt of benefits, according to a study by researchers at the University of York. Almost 700,000 of these are households with children.

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