We’re asking George Osborne to pay back the extra £200m VAT revenue gained from energy price hikes. With crucial schemes like Warm Front set to close, wouldn’t this money help those struggling this winter?
Last month, the Prime Minister got energy suppliers and consumer groups together for a summit to help people struggling with their energy bills.
Which? welcomed the government’s attention, but pointed out that this was only the start of tackling rising energy bills.
Government – give something back
This week, we wrote to the Chancellor, ahead of his ‘Autumn Statement’ on 29th November, to ask for a £200m boost in funding to make people’s homes warmer this winter.
Our justification for this call is straightforward. Following the summit, consumer groups committed to do more to help people with simple steps they can take to switch supplier, insulate their homes and save money.
Meanwhile, some energy companies are offering free insulation or promising no further price rises until next summer. Yes, the companies need to go much, much further – but it’s a start.
But what about government? Shouldn’t they also dip into their pockets and help? Especially when the recent energy price-hikes have resulted in an estimated £200m extra going in to the Treasury’s coffers through VAT receipts.
Yes, the government has a huge budget deficit to pay down, but they also have a duty to relieve the pressure on energy bills. After all, consumers tell us that energy prices are their number one financial concern. So rather than simply putting this windfall back into the general pot, shouldn’t they plough it into schemes that will keep bills down?
Invest in energy efficiency
Installing energy efficiency is often the best way to cut your energy bill. The Energy Savings Trust reckons that an un-insulated three bedroom house could save up to £310 a year by insulating the loft and cavity walls. And poorly insulated homes are also responsible for many illnesses and deaths in the UK. Plus, the cost of winter-related disease to the NHS is estimated at £859m each year.
But it’s not always easy to afford these kinds of house improvements. There are government programmes to help people to access free or heavily subsidised insulation. But one of these programmes – Warm Front – is due to end in 2013 despite huge interest – so much that it had to close early to new applications in 2010.
There are thousands of households that have benefited from free or subsidised insulation through Warm Front and other schemes, but thousands more will miss out once the scheme closes. To us, this is the perfect place to pay back some of that extra £200m.
Have you or someone you know had energy efficiency measures installed this way? Do you think that energy efficiency schemes like this from the government are a good way to spend money? And what more do you think the government should do this winter to help?