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Charity combats fuel poverty with new report

A national charity is campaigning against fuel poverty by calling for the government to roll out new smart meters.

National Energy Action (NEA), a charity that has been campaigning to end fuel poverty for over forty years, has published a new report in collaboration with Energy Action Scotland. The report, named “Maximising the smart meter roll-out for pre-payment customers”, details data and insights from 130 organisations across the UK. All of the organisations involved work with people on low-incomes who are affected by fuel poverty.

The report finds that more than two million people struggled to pay for energy in their homes during the pandemic, and that this could easily have been avoided with the rollout of pay as you go smart meters.

Matthew Copeland, the author of the report and NEA Head of Policy, commented:

Our findings are stark. There is clear evidence that vulnerable energy customers with older ‘pay as you go’ meters were put at needless risk during the pandemic. During successive lockdowns they have faced extra difficulty, needing to leave the safety of their homes to top up, just to keep their lights on and their families warm. This danger and extra difficulty could have been prevented with the rollout of new smart meters for these customers.

The report makes a total of six recommendations to the government, Ofgen, and the energy industry to ensure that low-income households benefit from the smart meters. The report finds that there is the potential, if the rollout of these smart meters are prioritised, to create more than £5bn in benefits for households, and £1bn for energy suppliers.

The smart meters that the report recommends are digital and provide automatic energy readings and fuel use information for households in near-real time. This allows households to budget more easily and manage their fuel consumption a lot more efficiently, and will help to reduce Britain’s fuel usage overall.

NEA works in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, helping people at risk of fuel poverty by providing debt advice and training, co-ordinating other related services, lobbying those in power to support energy efficient policies, and supporting projects at a local level. EAS is the national fuel poverty charity in Scotland.

Photo credit: Matthew Henry