At the Spending Review in October 2010 the Government announced it would commission an independent review to take a fresh look at the fuel poverty target and definition. The Government wishes to focus its available resources where they will be most effective in tackling the problems underlying fuel poverty.
On 14 March 2011 the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne MP, announced that Professor John Hills had been requested to undertake this review.
The Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 required the publication of a strategy setting out policies to ensure that as far as reasonably practicable no-one lives in fuel poverty. In 2001, the Government published its Fuel Poverty Strategy for England. This Strategy defined a fuel poor household as one which needs to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use and to heat its home to an adequate standard of warmth. This is generally defined as 21°C in the living room and 18°C in other occupied rooms. The strategy also set an interim objective of eradicating fuel poverty in vulnerable households as far as reasonably practicable by 2010; under the terms of the Warm Homes Act, no household should be in fuel poverty as far as reasonably practical by 2016.
Despite significant investment on measures designed, in whole or in part, to contribute to the objectives and targets set out in Fuel Poverty Strategy the number of households assessed to be in fuel poverty has not fallen in line with the targets. The latest official fuel poverty statistics show that 3.3m households in England were in fuel poverty in 2008.
Approach and timing
In its initial phase, the review will seek evidence from a wide range of key stakeholders with an interest in fuel poverty, energy efficiency, poverty and related issues. It is currently intended that the review will publish interim findings, based on the analysis conducted, in autumn 2011 and a final report to Government no later than January 2012.
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