Energy Bill could worsen fuel poverty

More East Lindsey residents could face fuel poverty following the ‘biggest transformation of Britain’s electricity market since privatisation,’ local authorities fear.

Secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey announced a ‘real-terms tripling of budget support for low-carbon generation’ when he introduced the government’s Energy Bill on Thursday.

Although Mr Davey claims consumer bills are one of his ‘greatest concerns’ and believes that efficiency savings will ‘more than outweigh’ the cost of supporting low carbon electricity generation by 2020, local figures fear East Lindsey’s already struggling bill-payers will be hit hard in the short term.

Lincolnshire County Council’s leader Coun Martin Hill said: “We’re concerned about the announcements that have been made as part of the Energy Bill and what they will mean for Lincolnshire.

“A quarter of the county is already in fuel poverty and this number is set to double over the next four years.

“The plans laid out will mean people will have to pay well over £100 more on their energy bills by 2020, which will make matters worse.”

Fellow county councillor Colin Davie has echoed Coun Hill’s comments and fears the public could ‘revolt’ if their pockets are squeezed any tighter by energy prices.

Though supportive of renewable energy he felt more could have been done to achieve carbon reduction targets through efficiency measures such as the Green Deal scheme which has provided affordable insulation to around 17,000 Lincolnshire homes.

The county council has pledged to continue its attempts to tackle fuel poverty through these initiatives and has welcomed the arrival of a £250,000 grant it was awarded to help vulnerable people stay warm this winter.

East Lindsey District Council has made a ‘clear commitment’ to supporting those facing fuel poverty by providing advice and inviting eligible residents to take advantage of free home heating improvements or insulation.

It has also recommended people in need of advice on reducing their fuel consumption to call 0845 606 4566 for free impartial advice.