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Fuel Poverty: Salford

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking to reduce the level of fuel poverty in Salford. (317392)

The Government have a strong package of measures to help reduce fuel poverty among vulnerable households. This is centred on tackling the three root causes of fuel poverty:

Reducing the demand for energy by improving home energy efficiency through schemes such as Warm Front, Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP) and the Decent Homes Standard. Between 2005 and 2010 (to 31 January) Warm Front delivered nearly £2.5 million worth of energy efficiency measures to over 2,208 Salford households; CERT requires energy suppliers to meet at least 40 per cent. of their obligation by promoting and installing measures in the homes of a Priority Group of vulnerable consumers in receipt of qualifying benefits or people aged over 70 years. Measures are only reported at a GB level and details for the work carried out in Salford are therefore not available.

Putting in place and continuously looking to improve a regulatory framework that promotes competition as the main driver to ensure downward pressure on prices for consumers, and to improve licence conditions and strengthen Ofgem’s powers through the Energy Bill; and

Raising real incomes, including through Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments alongside the wider tax and benefit system and through Benefit Entitlement Checks under the Warm Front Scheme. 386 such checks have been undertaken in Salford by Warm Front between 2005 and 2010 (to 31 January), identifying an average weekly increase in income of £35.32 for those entitled to additional benefits.

We have also introduced legislation to implement mandated social price support schemes once the current voluntary agreement with suppliers comes to an end in 2011. These schemes will provide more of the most vulnerable consumers with help towards their energy costs. We have said that we are minded to focus the majority of the additional resources on older pensioner households on the lowest incomes as these households tend to have a high incidence of fuel poverty—over 50 per cent. of fuel poor households have a person over 60 living in them; their circumstances are relatively stable; and they are at the greatest risk of excess winter deaths.

The fuel poverty review which was announced in January 2009, has been looking across all three drivers of fuel poverty, and particularly the key issue of how we can more effectively identify and target assistance at the most vulnerable households.