HC Deb 13 December 1999 vol 341 cc61-2W
Mr. Alan Simpson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what estimate he has made of the number of homes each year which will be removed from fuel poverty by the Government's policies; [100824]

(2) what estimate he has made of the length of time required for the Government's programmes to end fuel poverty; [100823]

(3) what assessment he has made of the cost of eradicating fuel poverty. [100825]

Mr. Meacher

Households who would require to spend more than 10 per cent. of their total households income on fuel in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime are commonly regarded as being fuel poor. 4.3 million households in England in 1996 were in this situation.

The Government's New Home Energy Efficiency Scheme is designed to treat 460,000 households between now and April 2002 at a cost of £260 million for these years. These households should be substantially moved away from fuel poverty.

In addition an unknown number of households will be taken out of fuel poverty as a result of other programmes including the liberalisation of the energy markets and the energy efficiency standards of performance schemes (EESOPs) which are being extended to gas suppliers and customers in the New Year.

The inter-Ministerial group chaired jointly by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Energy and Competitiveness in Europe and my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions will consider the impact of these programmes. The group will then seek to develop a more accurate picture of the extent of the problem, how quickly it can be addressed, and at what cost, so that a target date can be set for the elimination of fuel poverty in England. Some of the policy initiatives in this area, such as the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme, are devolved functions. Therefore a target date for Scotland and Wales would be a matter for the Parliament and Assembly respectively.

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