§ Mr. Llew Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the ways in which other EU member states tackle problems of fuel poverty. 602W
§ Mr. Meacher
Work by National Energy Action and others indicate that fuel poverty is not widely recognised in other member states of the European Union, with the exception of Ireland.
Fuel poverty is caused mainly by a combination of low income and poor energy efficiency in homes. The links between temperature and winter mortality is strong and typically 30,000 more people die in winter in the UK than would be expected given the average death rate for the year. Although this excess mortality is caused by both exposure to outdoor conditions as well as cold homes, it is much higher in the UK than in other areas, such as Scandinavia, where winter outdoor conditions are more severe but homes are more energy efficient.
The Government believe it is unacceptable for households, particularly those most vulnerable to cold-related ill health—the old, disabled and children—not to be able to afford the heat they need to keep warm. The Inter-ministerial Group on fuel poverty is currently developing a fuel poverty strategy for publication in the autumn, that sets out objectives and the policies and targets to achieve them. It is likely that the strategy will cover both measures to tackle low incomes as well as improvements in energy efficiency of homes.