George Osborne’s plan to cut financial support for energy efficiency in poorer households is an “unforgivable” attack, according to the government’s own adviser on fuel poverty.
With a political row raging over soaring energy bills, inflamed further by an 8% rise from “big six” energy company SSE on Thursday, Osborne and No 10 sources have repeatedly indicated that the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is being targeted for cuts or delays to reduce the government levies imposed on consumer energy bills.
But Derek Lickorish, chair of the government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, said: “It is completely inequitable to attack the only measure that is doing something for the fuel poor in England. It is unforgivable when we have energy prices that are going only in one direction.”
In a letter to No 10, the Treasury and energy departments, seen by the Guardian, Lickorish labels the cuts “peverse”, arguing that the fastest and cheapest way of reducing energy bills is through better insulation of the UK’s ageing and draughty housing stock.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the ECO costs billpayers £1.3bn a year and makes up 4% – or £47 – of an average annual energy bill.