Charities Urge Government To Back Energy Company Obligation

26 November 2013

The Government is being urged not to reduce funding for the Energy Company Obligation but to solve the fuel poverty crisis “once and for all.”

In a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the Energy Bill Revolution – an alliance of more than 150 UK organisations – has defended the Energy Company Obligation, claiming that it is the answer to Britain’s poor energy efficiency.

Many of the UK’s largest charities are among those organisations that have signed the letter, including Age UK, Barnado’s, the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace.

The letter comes as the Government considers lifting green levies on energy bills to help reduce the cost of fuel bills.

The Energy Company Obligation was launched in January in order to help Britain’s poorest households become more energy efficient. Under the scheme, 300,000 homes have already benefited from energy saving measures such as Loft Insulation and Cavity Wall Insulation.

But the scheme has been brought under fire after British Gas, SSE and other energy companies blamed it for a recent spate of increases to fuel bills.

The Big Six energy companies fund the Energy Company Obligation by adding a surcharge to fuel bills, thought to be in the region of £100 per year.

But with Prime Minister David Cameron and the Coalition Government reportedly considering scrapping the scheme, the Energy Bill Revolution has put its backing behind the scheme.

The alliance cites Britain’s poor record of energy efficiency and its high level of excess winter deaths as reasons to keep the scheme. Figures recently showed that 24,000 people die in Britain every year as a result of cold weather, making it one of the worst countries in Europe.

By installing measures such as Loft Insulation and Cavity Wall Insulation, energy can be saved and bills can be reduced. This, the Alliance states, would also help the Prime Minister live up to his February pledge that he would make Britain “the most energy efficient country in Europe.”

The letter declares: “The political debate on how to reduce energy bills needs to focus on long term solutions, which will bring down energy costs for generations to come, rather than quick fixes. Energy efficiency is by far the most cost effective solution for tackling both high energy bills and fuel poverty.”

In addition to the charities that have co-signed the letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer are also construction industry representatives, including Carillion and Willmott Dixon, and trade unions, including GMB, TUC, Unite, and UNISON.

The letter has also been signed by Paul Massara, Chief Executive of RWE npower, which is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Most of the UK’s energy suppliers have called for the Energy Company Obligation to be rescinded, but the inclusion of npower on the Energy Bill Revolution’s letter suggests not all energy companies are against the initiative.

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