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Fuel Poverty

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps his Department is taking to eliminate fuel poverty in vulnerable households in England by 2010. (85461)

Responsibility for tackling fuel poverty in England is shared between the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Following the Energy Review, we will be taking forward work with energy suppliers and other key players to examine how the continuing challenge of fuel poverty can be best addressed. The Energy Review also commits us to looking hard at how we can maximise the contribution made by our existing schemes. The Department of Trade and Industry will play an important role in this analysis.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs leads on the Warm Front scheme in England. The Warm Front scheme has resulted in improvements to the energy efficiency of the housing of those on a range of qualifying benefits and has provided assistance to over a million vulnerable households since 2000.

The Department of Trade and Industry itself has a number of policies to tackle the issue of fuel poverty. It has liaised closely with energy suppliers on the development of the Home Heat Helpline, which provides vulnerable customers and their representatives with a central point of information relating to the help available from their energy supplier and Government. It has encouraged the introduction of social tariffs and price freezes for fuel poor and low income customers.

The Department's Design and Demonstration Unit is a team of private sector secondees that works in support of Energy White Paper objectives. As part of the Unit's work, it has designed and delivered projects to provide gas connections to deprived communities, and it is now developing community projects utilising renewable technologies.