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Housing bodies urge next Prime Minister to end fuel poverty

Ahead of the General Election, federations representing housing associations across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland unite in policy call to create a social tariff


Housing federations from across the UK have written an open letter to party leaders calling for the introduction of a social tariff in the energy market.

In a joint letter, the National Housing Federation, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Community Housing Cymru (CHC), and Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) said that recent volatility in fuel prices and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis meant that the UK’s energy market was in urgent need of reform.

The federations, whose members collectively represent over 4.9 million households in the UK, say that part of the solution is the introduction of a social tariff: a discounted service offered to all low-income households in need of support.

In their letter to Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer, Sir Ed Davey, and other party leaders throughout the UK, the four federations said that a social tariff for energy should apply not only to social tenants but all domestic consumers struggling with the cost of living, who are having to choose between heating and eating.

They also added that support should be extended to those in receipt of means-tested benefits and rural energy consumers who are not connected to the gas grid, noting that these consumers often have to contend with the higher costs of electricity and unregulated fuels.

Whilst the price cap for energy has slightly decreased in recent months, there are 6 million households across the UK currently in fuel poverty.

NIFHA Chief Executive, Seamus Leheny said: NIFHA and our members support this important call on the UK government to introduce a much-needed social tariff.

“As the cost of living continues to force people to choose between heating and eating, a discount on energy tariffs would be fundamental in supporting households in fuel poverty and helping those most in need.”

SFHA Chief Executive, Sally Thomas said: “Whoever forms the next UK Government must urgently prioritise ending fuel poverty which has devastating consequences for the health, wellbeing, and aspirations of millions of people across the UK.

“Alongside our colleagues at federations in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, we have written to the UK’s party leaders urging them to introduce a social tariff in the energy market.

“This much-needed reform of our energy market would lift millions of social tenants and other domestic consumers out of fuel poverty, support the UK’s transition to net-zero, and help many rural consumers who are unnecessarily affected by the higher costs of electricity.”

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “It is not right that families across the UK are forced to choose between heating their homes and buying food. With six million people in fuel poverty, including many social housing tenants and other households on low incomes, urgent action is necessary to provide protection from soaring energy costs as winter approaches.

“We know that greener approaches to energy, as part of our journey to net-zero, will mean bills will become more affordable over the longer term but we need urgent intervention to protect families now.

“That is why we are joining the other UK housing federations in urging the new government to introduce a social tariff to make bills consistently affordable for those on the lowest incomes. Taking this step will not only lift people out of fuel poverty and protect them from market volatility but will also safeguard their health and wellbeing.”

Stuart Ropke, Chief Executive of Community Housing Cymru said: “Social housing tenants continue to be among the hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis. With energy bills still almost double pre-crisis levels, a social energy tariff must be introduced to protect low-income households, enabling people to afford to heat their homes consistently.

“We stand alongside our sister housing federations in urging the UK Government to support people struggling with their energy bills. A social tariff would provide a buffer to help people manage rising costs and avoid fuel poverty.”