Our evidence covers fuel poverty in rural England
with specific concern for off mains gas areas.
Off Mains Gas Evidence
illustrates the extent of coverage of the mains gas network across England
expressed in percentage terms and based on post code data.
illustrates the correlation of the highest percentage off net gas areas with
the highest incidences of rural fuel poverty identified by lower super output
illustrates the distribution 100% off net gas areas identified in Map 2 in
correlation with the percentage of households in fuel poverty.
The graphs below
show a clear correlation between increasing levels of fuel poverty and households
with no mains gas connection. This is new analysis which we hope the Select
Committee will find informative.
One in three rural households
do not have a mains gas connection and are reliant on heating oil, Liquid
Petroleum Gas (LPG) or solid fuel for their heating. As graph 1 illustrates
not having a mains gas connection has a significant impact on the prevalence
of fuel poverty. 23% of all households that have no mains gas connection are
living in fuel poverty (compared to 12% of all households that have a mains
Graph 1: Source: Building
Research Establishment (BRE)
analysis (2010) of English Housing Condition Survey 2006/07
The situation is worse in rural
areas than in urban. 27% of rural households that have no mains gas connection
are living in fuel poverty (compared to 18% of urban households that have no
mains gas connection).
Also as graph 2 illustrates
below the most rural areas (Villages and Isolated Hamlets) have worse
indicators than the denser rural areas (Town and Fringe). 28% (almost 1 in 3)
of households in 'Villages, hamlets and isolated dwellings' that have no
mains gas connection are living in fuel poverty (compared to 22% in rural
towns and fringe areas that have no mains gas).
Graph 2: Source: BRE analysis (2010) of English Housing
Condition Survey 2006/07
Key characteristics of rural fuel poverty
poverty is exacerbated in rural areas due to the high number of older solid
wall properties that are difficult to insulate and high number of households
and lower than average wages. This combined with a partial access to cheaper
(regulated) mains gas, increases the incidence of fuel poverty.
facts about rural fuel poverty include:
· 1 in 5 (21.3%)
households in villages, isolated dwellings and hamlets are living in fuel
poverty, compared to 12% in urban areas (Source: BRE / English Housing
Condition Survey, 2006/07).
· 34% of all
rural households are solid wall properties (Hard to Treat Homes) which are
more difficult and expensive to insulate (Source: Centre for Sustainable
Energy Report to Eaga Partnership Charitable Trust from July 2008).
· Hard to treat
homes (off mains gas and solid wall) account for over 50% of the UK's total
carbon emissions from housing (Source: BRE/ English Housing Condition Survey
· 29.5% of households in villages, isolated
dwellings and hamlets have a SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy
Efficiency) below 30, compared to 5.8% in urban areas. A SAP rating below 35
is classified as an extremely energy inefficient home and a significant
health hazard. (Source: BRE / English Housing Condition Survey, 2006/07).
Rural Fuel Poverty and Government
evidence the CRC is very concerned that current and proposed fuel poverty
programmes including Warm Front, CERT (Carbon Emission Reduction Target),
Community Energy Savings Programme (CESP) and the CERT Extension; whilst
supposed to be available across the country, may not in fact address the
needs of rural households, nor reach the fuel poor in off mains gas areas.
An evaluation of
the Warm Front programme by the Centre for Sustainable Energy for EAGA found
correlation between Warm Front Grants delivered between 2000 and 2008 and
levels of fuel poverty was strongest in 'urban' areas and weakest in rural
areas - between 2000 and 2008 only 10% of Warm
Front Grants were awarded in rural areas. This figure has risen to 15% in
2008/09 however, this is reaching only a fraction of the number of rural
households who need to be lifted out of fuel poverty, especially those in
hard to treat properties and/or off the gas network. Due to the focus on
cavity and loft insulation the Government's CERT programme is not applicable
to rural hard to treat homes. We also note that CESP agreed programmes of assistance
are all in urban areas.
Heat Incentive (RHI)
proposed initiative, currently being consulted upon, will apply to all areas
including rural off net gas households. Whilst we are supportive of measures
to improve the uptake of renewable technologies and tackle carbon emissions,
we are concerned that the levy supporting the RHI may disproportionately
impact on off mains gas fuel poor households reliant on fossil fuel; that is
those using LPG, domestic heating oil (kerosene) or coal.
our view the use of levies raised from domestic and from commercial users
should be separately ring fenced for domestic and for commercial
investment. This is because of the
risk that fuel poor households would be compelled to pay the levy but might then
(depending on the final design of the scheme)be unable to access investment
from the RHI fund whilst rural (and other) businesses would be able to. This
would clearly be unfair.
CRC Hands Up to Fuel Poverty Study
for Rural Communities and Rural Services Network are working with Durham
County Council, East Riding Council and Shropshire Council to identify the
depth and impact of rural fuel poverty in these areas and gain a better
understanding of the barriers and solutions to engaging with communities on
rural fuel poverty issues.
As part of the
study we have surveyed 7,500 rural households with a very high response rate
of 15.6%. A full analysis of the responses plus further evidence from focus
groups which are currently running in each of the areas will be available at
the end of April 2010. However initial analysis of the Durham responses is
showing a high level of confusion and mistrust amongst rural residents on the
range of energy conservation schemes available, what schemes are applicable
to them if any and the role of energy companies in delivering schemes.
We would be happy to provide the Committee, or any
of its Members, with details of the findings following completion.
Marmot review 2010
We should like
to draw the Committee's attention to Professor Sir Michael Marmot's strategic
review of health inequalities, 'Fair Society, Healthy Lives' that state on
page 134 'Risks of fuel poverty are higher in rural areas'.
The impact on
health of fuel poverty should not be underestimated, it is not only cold but
damp conditions that gnaw at and debilitate fuel poor households.