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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2009): Social security - UK

Energy efficiency and fuel poverty

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09; HC 37)

More than 5 million UK households experienced fuel poverty last winter. The Government's statutory target to eradicate fuel poverty, as far as reasonably practicable, in vulnerable households by 2010 (and in all households by 2016) is likely to be missed, highlighting the weakness of a policy which attempts to address fuel affordability issues and domestic energy efficiency simultaneously. The Government announced plans for a 'Great British refurb' - providing basic insulation for all UK homes by 2015. That completion date is unambitious and there is little practical detail on how it will be delivered. The creation of the Department of Energy and Climate Change provides an opportunity for the Government to get back on track towards achieving its fuel poverty targets. There needs to be a comprehensive strategy that will identify the contributions of each of the three elements affecting fuel poverty levels (namely prices, incomes and energy efficiency levels) to meeting the targets. This 'road map' should set out how the energy efficiency of English housing stock can be improved to a specific level. Achieving this will require a means of bringing together the current disparate set of programmes. The report recommends the realigning of existing programmes into a comprehensive, adequately funded, area-based programme led by local authorities, potentially replacing energy company delivery of Carbon Emissions Reduction Target programmes with a levy on energy companies paid into a central fund. Combined with funding from other programmes, this would be distributed to local authorities to fund delivery of the national plan to improve energy efficiency.

Understanding social security: issues for policy and practice. 2nd ed.

J. Millar (editor)

Bristol: Policy Press, 2009

Reform of social security and tax is at the heart of the UK government's vision to combat social exclusion, eradicate child poverty and move people into employment. Since 1997 there have been major changes in policy and administration, directly affecting the lives of millions of people and raising important issues of equity and social justice. The book covers both social security policy and practice and addresses key issues such as: tax credits; welfare-to-work; cash and care; fraud; asylum seekers and ethnic minorities; disability; the pledge to end child poverty; and pensions. It also analyses the impact of supra-national bodies, family change, information technology and organisational change.

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