Budget a cause for concern for those in fuel poverty

11 March 2020, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has labelled the Budget a missed opportunity for the environment and said that it will cause serious concern for those living in fuel poverty.

Delivered earlier today, the Chancellor’s announcement of a freeze on the levy on electricity, while increasing it on gas in 2022, is deeply worrying news for those in fuel poverty. CIEH has called for major investment in the energy efficiency of housing in order to improve standards in cold and inefficient homes as well as reducing energy bills for those in fuel poverty. Unfortunately, the Budget failed to include significant measures to improve energy efficiency across the nation’s housing stock.

However, there were positive measures in the Budget such as the introduction of the plastics tax and £500m to support the rollout of new rapid-charging hubs for electric cars. Although, combined with the freeze in fuel duty and the exemption for farmers on red diesel, the budget can only be seen as a missed opportunity for the Government to commit to improving our environment.

Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive of CIEH, said:

“This budget is a cause for concern for those in fuel poverty. Gas central heating is currently the cheapest form of heating for those struggling to meet the costs of keeping warm. By freezing electricity costs and increasing the cost of gas, the Chancellor is effectively making energy more expensive for everyone. The plan to increase the levy on gas is deeply worrying and we urge the Government to clarify their intentions and outline how they will support those living in fuel poverty.

There is also a string of mixed messages on the Government’s commitment to our environment and air quality.

On one hand there are measures that we absolutely support, such as the plastics tax and the funding for electric charging hubs. However, these are coupled with continuing to freeze fuel duty, exempting farmers from the scrapping of red diesel tax relief and spending more on roads to the detriment of air quality.

This budget is confused and can only be seen as a missed opportunity.”

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