DEAs the answer to eradicating fuel poverty?

The domestic energy assessor industry is deveolping from its fledgling existence with ambitious plans to utilise the skill base we have within the UK. The energy assessment industry has met numerous challenges since its inception, certainly during the past year.

Maybe due to the New Year approaching, maybe due to the frustration from the lack of progress made by the Government in certain areas, there has been a noticeable amount of reflection on goals achieved within our industry and future aspirations that would benefit our industry but more so the country and arguably the entire planet.

Jim Gillespie, chairman of the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors yesterday made a statement to the membership, which have kindly been allowed to publish.

“I’m sure we all recall the infamous threatened Judicial Review (JR) last year by RICS which succeeded, fortunately for the Government as it transpired, in delaying the launch of HIPs from June until August.”

“Recently however there has been another Judicial Review (JR) attempt against Labour which I wholeheartedly feel that everyone passionate about our industry needs to know about and also which every Labour MP who is also a cabinet minister should collectively hang their heads in shame.”

“Our story begins back on 23rd November 2000 with the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act, which introduced targets to eradicate fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010 and for all households by 2016. Both of these targets were underpinned by legislation.”

“The first 4 years saw impressive progress driven mainly by a combination of low energy prices and increased incomes for many vulnerable households. The number of English households in fuel poverty had fallen from a high of 5.3 million back in 1996 to 1.2 million by 2004. Now we have passed the 8th anniversary of the Warm Home and Energy Conservation Act energy prices are rocketing resulting in rising levels of fuel debt and therefore 4 million households in England are now fuel poor. This should come as no surprise to our savvy members who are familiar with the concept of Peak Oil, the likes of which we had a short glimpse of in the middle of 2008 when the price of a barrel of oil reached $140 and the petrol prices and the price of food on the supermarket shelves rose quickly and steeply as a result. Despite many organisations such as our own telling Government about the cause and effect of their reluctance to take swift and radical action this Government, in my opinion, continues to pay lip service to both our fuel poverty problems not to mention the 80% carbon reduction target they have self imposed upon the country.”

“This has prompted Friends of the Earth and Help the Aged to instigate legal action back in April of this year in the high court. As part of the charities case they quoted an extract from the Government’s own advisory panel – the Fuel Property Advisory Group (FPAG) and I quote – “The Government’s policies over a period have now made it impossible to meet the 2010 target and this will result in a shortfall greater than necessary”. On the 23rd of October the judge made his judgement and it was in favour of the Government. He did however grant the charities the right to appeal and it seems likely that they will. This is a hollow victory for Labour.”

“What depths has this once great empire sunk to when a respected and trusted charity such as Help the Aged is forced to consider legal action against the Government for failure to meet its own stated targets and objectives? How many more times will Government fail, forcing others to instigate similar legal proceedings in future?”

“Now you all know the problem, let’s look at the possible solution.”

  • If you add all those on incapacity benefit to those on job seekers allowance, we now have over 4 million unemployed in this country.
  • We have over 9, 000 accredited energy assessors desperately trying to scratch a living
  • We have a construction industry on its knees due to a deepening recession
  • We have Government spending billions of taxpayers’ money to bail out banks who indulged in high risk lending strategies
  • We have millions of pounds in grant funds that are not widely known of, are not being targeted properly and saddest of all, not being utilised to the full

“Am I alone here or is the answer staring us all in the face?
“We have a ready willing and able workforce who can conduct EPC’s on every property on the land, they are called Domestic Energy Assessors (DEA’s).”

“This will then allow Government to centrally collate all the data they require to tackle the worst properties first and gradually increase the overall efficiency of the entire existing housing stock by a series of grant assisted measures, such as replacing old boilers, increasing loft insulation and filling the empty cavities of over 9 million existing homes and installing renewable energy products as applicable. We have a ready, willing and able workforce to do this right now too, all the constructions workers who have been laid off due to no new house building and are now unemployed.”

“Yes, this will cost the Government lots of money, but you also have to look at all the derived benefits in real terms. Not only will they then have a realistic chance of meeting their targets for both eradicating fuel poverty and reducing our carbon usage by 80% it will also pump much needed revenue back into our economy, it will take a large number of skilled workers off the dole queue and it will give those of us who trusted this Government when they created the jobs of home inspector and energy assessor the chance to make the kind of income they promised us we would. The time for talk is over. The time for action is RIGHT NOW.”


Is now the time for more expansive utilisation of domestic energy assessors (DEA) to help eradicate fuel poverty?

How would the taxpaying public react to every house in the UK receiving an EPC and their properties’ data being collated?

Will the Government welcome such a proposal and what level of funding would be required for such an undertaking?

It is certainly is an exciting though ambitious possibilty, with the chance to make a real difference in the fight towards dramatic reductions in carbon emissions and eradication of those living within the definition of fuel poverty.

So, what next?

We look forward to your thoughts and views.

A Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
Government sued for fuel poverty failure – Help the Aged press release (9/4/2008)
Government fuel poverty failure escapes legal reprimand – Help the Aged press release (23/10/2008)

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