UPDATE: 23rd June 2022
This Minister for Climate Change and Corporate Responsibility, Lord Callanan, has today set out the Energy Company Obligation scheme which places an obligation on the larger energy suppliers to install energy efficiency and heating measures to people’s homes.
Lord Callanan said: "ECO4 [the latest iteration of this scheme] will support around 450,000 homes and is expected to save on average £290 a year for the most vulnerable with up to £1,600 for those living in the least energy efficient homes. However, those savings could average £600 this winter. The passing of these regulations will bring legislative certainty to suppliers and the supply chain, enabling them to ramp up delivery with confidence before winter.
"Since 2013, the Energy Company Obligation scheme has installed around 3.5 million energy efficiency measures in 2.4 million homes across Great Britain. Around nine per cent of all households in Great Britain had a measure installed under ECO up to the end of quarter 1 2022."
UPDATE: 26th May 2022
I am really pleased to see, after writing to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and speaking to him in private about this issue, that the triple lock will apply to the state pension.
Many people in Bosworth and across the country were worried about what it meant for them when the triple lock was suspended, so this was an important and necessary update from the Chancellor's recent announcement.
I was also happy to hear the Chancellor has announced plans which will help the whole country with increases in the cost of living.
The £37 billion package will be bolstered by support from oil and gas companies who will be 90% better off when they reinvest for our future - this helps with our energy security, net zero commitments and, importantly, affordability.
It was right that the Government waited until we had the full picture of what the energy price cap would increase to in the Autumn before announcing the following measures...
- Most households to receive £550 in support
- Nearly 8 million of the most vulnerable houses to receive at least £1,200
- Pensioners to receive £850 in support
Relief for energy bills has also been doubled, from £200 to £400 for every household and will not need to be repaid. The £400 will be credited directly to energy accounts starting in October 2022.
You can watch the full announcement here: Parliamentlive.tv - House of Commons.
Read about the Government's assistance here: Cost of Living Support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Find out what help you are eligible for here: Cost of Living Payment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
UPDATE: 1st April 2022
People in Bosworth have, quite rightly, asked me what the Government is doing to help with the escalating cost of living, and it is something which I am very conscious of, and regularly working on. Although we are fortunate to be an area with high local employment, there are families across the community who will undoubtedly struggle in the months ahead with rising costs seen across the globe, and an elderly population who should not be forgotten.
My team and I continue to assist constituents where we can through casework, much of this inflation is being driven by the rising cost of energy due to increased demand worldwide – and that feeds through into pressures on the cost of living. I completely understand constituent anxiety over rising prices and inflation.
My work down in Westminster
Please click here to read more about the work I have done in calling for extra support for cost of living pressures: My work on the cost of living | Dr Luke Evans MP
Government work in this area
Since the start of the pandemic, the Government has announced a £400 billion package of support to protect jobs and income. The economy is in recovery, with a record number of people on the payroll, with recent ONS statistics showing the UK's GDP grew by 1.3% in Quarter 4 of 2021.
Although Government intervention can be limited with the global rising costs of energy, I am pleased the UK Government have acted and implemented a £9 billion package of support to help 28 million households with the cost of living:
You can find out more above the above provisions here: Government support for energy bills and the cost of living - factsheets - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Increased the National Living Wage by 6.6%, meaning an extra £1000 a year for a full-time worker
- Announced a non-repayable £150 cash rebate for homes in Council Tax bands A-D – equivalent to 80 per cent of all households, helping both lower and middle-income families
- Froze the licence fee at £159, halting an increase to £180
- Introduced a £1000 tax cut for nearly 2 million families, through the cut to the Universal Credit taper
- Cut fuel duty by 5p per litre for a full year
- Continued to freeze fuel duty for 12 consecutive years - this has saved the average driver over £1,900 compared to the pre-2010 escalator.
- Allocated £1 billion for helping those in need on bills and other essentials - In England, the fund will be distributed via upper-tier Local Authorities. At least a third of the £500 million extension funding (£140m) will be spent on pensioners on low incomes and at least another third (£140m) will be spent on families with children.
- Announced £144 million of discretionary funding for local authorities to support households not eligible for the council tax rebate
- Continued the Holiday Activity and Food Program for children on Free School Meals with £200 million
- Retained the Energy Price Cap, helping 15 million households
- After asking a Parliamentary question regarding support for vulnerable individuals struggling with the cost of energy bills, I welcomed the news that the Warm Homes Discount will be increased and eligibility extended by one-third to 3 million vulnerable households (worth £150). You can read the full Ministerial response here: Written questions and answers - Written questions, answers and statements - UK Parliament; Find out more here: Warm Home Discount Scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Since 2011, over £3 billion in direct support has been provided to low-income and vulnerable households under the Warm Home Discount scheme
- A £200 ‘smoothing’ rebate on energy bills for all households from their supplier
- Delivered Cold Weather Payments of an extra £25 per week to vulnerable households in exceptionally cold weather: Cold Weather Payment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Pledged £3 billion over this Parliament to help more than half a million lower income homes become more energy efficient, saving households on average £290 per year
- Winter Fuel Payments are the largest benefit paid to pensioners, and will continue to be available to all pensioners: Winter Fuel Payment: Eligibility - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
On the 23rd March, The Chancellor announced his annual Spring Statement setting out further support the Government is putting in place during these difficult times. I note this was not a full budget, which will be announced in the Autumn.
The Chancellor unveiled a new Tax Plan to ease the rising cost of living and to deliver the biggest cut to personal taxes in a quarter of a century:
- Cutting fuel duty by 5p for 12 months – a £5 billion tax cut and largest fuel duty cut ever.
- Cutting National Insurance now – a £6 billion tax cut for 30 million working people across the UK from July, worth over £330 a year – 70 per cent of people will pay less tax even after the levy.
- Cutting the basic rate of Income Tax to 19p from 2024 – the first income tax cut for 16 years, a £5 billion tax cut for over 30 million workers, savers and pensioners.
- Cutting business employment taxes now by raising the Employment Allowance to £5,000 – a tax cut for half a million small businesses worth up to £1,000 per business.
- Cutting VAT on energy saving materials like solar – a tax cut only possible because of Brexit.
- Doubling the Household Support Fund to £1 billion for councils to support the most vulnerable.
- Creating the conditions for private sector-led growth – through Autumn Budget tax cuts on business capital investment and R&D.
- Building on our over £9 billion package of support to help households with £350 to address rising energy costs.
You can find out more here: Chancellor announces tax cuts to support families with cost of living - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
UPDATE: 10th December 2021
On a purely personal level, I understand concerns around energy costs for pensioners and the most at-risk individuals when it comes to fuel poverty. From my conversations in Westminster, I also understand this has been reflected by many, whether parliamentary colleagues or Ministers.
Global gas prices are high due to various factors, including an increase in demand following the end of lockdowns in various countries and in return economies reopening; a cold winter in the UK; high demand in Asia for liquified natural gas (LNG) transported globally by freight which has meant that far less LNG has reached Europe; and weather events in the US limiting supply to Europe. With reduced variety of supply globally and much higher than anticipated demand, high wholesale gas prices have subsequently driven an increase in wholesale power prices, with a few short-term markets trading at, or near, record levels.
As a final note, customers may be able to reduce their energy bills by shopping around for a better deal. Changing energy provider has never been easier, either online or over the phone, with comparison sites providing useful information on the best deals. Almost 500,000 energy customers switched to a new supplier each month in 2020, according to Energy UK.
Useful links to help with energy bills this Winter:
- Citizens Advice has published useful guidance on switching energy suppliers online: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-a-better-energy-deal/switching-energy-supplier/
- Energy UK’s brief on the actions the energy industry is taking to support customers: Energy sector offers helping hand | Energy UK (energy-uk.org.uk)
- NEA provide a free support service on energy bills, benefits advice and income maximisation: WASH Advice - NEA
- Simply Energy provide impartial and independent advice on heating your home: Simple Energy Advice
- EDF Warm Home discount: https://www.edfenergy.com/for-home/help-support/warm-home-discount
- Leicestershire County Council also have a Warm Homes Fund: https://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/health-and-wellbeing/seasonal-health/leicestershire-warm-homes-fund
Home Energy Improvements
As part of the Clean Growth Strategy to make as many homes as possible reach EPC Band C or above, there are grants and support available for home energy improvements such as cavity wall and loft insultation.
- Find national and local energy grants here: Find energy grants and ways to save energy in your home - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Hinckley and Rugby Building Society provides funding for customers to carry out green home improvements: Green mortgages | Hinckley & Rugby Building Society (hrbs.co.uk)
- As part of the Smart Energy GB campaign, you can request a free Smart Meter from your energy supplier to measure and display how much gas/electricity is being used in the home, to reduce energy waste and save money.
- Under the Government’s Energy Company Obligation, energy suppliers fund the installation of energy efficiency measures in households: Energy Company Obligation (ECO) - Support for improving your home | Ofgem
- The Energy Company Obligation follows previous supplier obligations and was introduced in 2013. It obliges energy suppliers above a certain size to reduce home heating costs through the installation of energy efficiency and heating measures. The scheme, ECO4, is focused on households who are low income and vulnerable, or at risk of fuel poverty, living in inefficient Energy Performance Certificate Band D-G homes, with a greater focus on insulation, making greater improvements to the least energy efficient homes.
- Which? guide to the Energy Companies Obligation: Energy Company Obligation (ECO) - Which?