Tackle fuel poverty and the climate crisis.
The government needs to stop subsidising high-carbon heating and use the extra revenue to support low-income homes, writes Libby Peake of the Green Alliance.
Experts are right to raise the alarm about the climate impacts of how we heat our homes. That the UK is on course to take 700 years to achieve low-carbon heating should spur the government to action (Report, 8 October).
Its first step should be to end the subsidy for heating that maintains the high-carbon status quo and does little to help those in fuel poverty. The reduced VAT rate on domestic gas is discouraging innovation and investment in low-carbon heating technology, and the £2bn in uncollected revenue mainly benefits the wealthy because they use the most energy.
Understandably, politicians don’t want to raise heating bills for those on the lowest incomes. But they don’t have to, if they design a fairer policy that actually does more for the poorest households. This would involve removing the discount on gas and heating fuels and ringfencing the extra revenue. It should be redistributed to low-income homes and used to install energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heating systems. That way, fuel poverty and its health impacts could be tackled at the same time as climate change.
Head of resource policy, Green Alliance
11 October 2020