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Queen 'was in fuel poverty'

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Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

The Queen was in fuel poverty under Labour's definition, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said today, as he defended the Government's flagship policy to help those on low incomes heat their homes.

He said fuel poverty was now being measured more accurately and stressed the Energy Companies Obligation (Eco) was helping the right people.

Introduced in 2013, it places legal obligations on the larger energy suppliers to deliver energy efficiency measures to domestic users. It has a particular focus on vulnerable consumer groups and hard-to-treat homes.

The Liberal Democrat minister was replying to shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint during energy questions in the Commons.

She said nearly 2.5 million households were in fuel poverty in England and a million more in Scotland and Wales.

But, she added, figures she had obtained showed Eco would lift just 10,000 out of fuel poverty between 2015 and 2017.

"Can you explain why out of a budget of nearly £2 billion and with hundreds of thousands of measures due to be installed, so few people living in fuel poverty will be helped?" the Labour frontbencher asked.

Mr Davey said fuel poverty had increased under the last Government and and insisted he was "totally committed" to helping people in fuel poverty.

He also told MPs that by the end of this year or early next year, the Government would be publishing the first fuel poverty strategy in a decade.

But Ms Flint claimed fuel poverty fell by 1.7 million under Labour and pointed out the Government had changed the definition.

She went on: "I'll tell you why Eco as done so little for the fuel poor. Because nearly half the funding goes to people who aren't in fuel poverty and households in fuel poverty only get one measure which is not enough to make a difference.

"Despite this, the Government has announced a further £100 million for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, another scheme that goes to people with no assessment of their ability to pay or need for energy efficiency improvements.

"Isn't this just throwing good money after bad and why don't you make a decision today to ensure all this funding goes to the people that need it most?"

Mr Davey replied: " Fuel poverty increased under the last Government under both measures.

"The reason we changed the measure for fuel poverty - after an independent review - was because the last Government measured fuel poverty so inaccurately that the Queen was in fuel poverty. We thought it did need to change.

"Under your approach a lot of the money that you would have spent would have been wasted. It wouldn't have gone to people in real need. Under our more accurate approach, we are ensuring the money goes to the right people."

He said more than 50% of Eco went to those in fuel poverty.

PA Media