Government’s 2010 fuel poverty targets ‘to be missed’

A target of ending fuel poverty by 2010 will be missed, government advisers have claimed.

The Fuel Poverty Group claims that within two years, over a million households will spend at least a tenth of their annual income on fuel – meeting the definition of fuel poverty.

The group claims that a government target of reducing fuel poverty will not be met in the time frame set out.

The chairman of the advisory group Peter Lehmann criticised the government for “not being willing to take the difficult decisions needed to make further progress in eradicating fuel poverty”.

The Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Steve Webb said: “The government cannot just abdicate responsibility for fuel poverty. It’s shocking that the energy bill currently before Parliament doesn’t even mention the subject.

“At the moment the only thing rising faster than household fuel bills are the profits of the energy companies.”

Shadow business secretary Alan Duncan added: “When Labour came into power, they recklessly committed to eliminate fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010; now they are beginning to realise that are victims of their own overblown promises.

“As prices rise, more and more people will fall below the fuel poverty line, but the uncomfortable truth is that the government’s response has been to slash the funding for the Warm Front programme while the chancellor spins against Ofgem for failing to keep the markets competitive,” he added.

In response to the figures Defra minister Phil Woolas said that fuel poverty was a serious issue and that “cherry-picking figures does not do it justice or reflect the complexity of the problem”.