Campaigning for a better deal for energy poor consumers is a central element of STEP’s work. Through our partners’ experience of providing energy advice to energy poor consumers we often see the impact of poor housing, inadequate welfare safety nets and inequitable energy markets on the people these programmes support. Tackling these problems is essential to the long term goal of ending energy poverty.
In the UK, strictly speaking England, STEP works with the End Fuel Poverty Coalition to campaign for action against fuel poverty, the UK term for energy poverty. It is a broad coalition of over 20 anti-poverty, environmental and health campaigners, local authorities, trade unions, community groups and consumer organisations. Many Coalition representatives from private tenants and community groups have direct experience of living in fuel poverty. We argue that ending fuel poverty not only improves people’s health and quality of life but also cuts the cost of living, creates jobs and negates carbon emissions in the process.
The Coalition has been at the forefront of successful initiatives to tackle fuel poverty. Examples of past campaign successes include the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standard regulations in the private rented sector, refocusing the fuel supplier energy efficiency programme entirely on low income consumers, and the establishment of publicly funded energy efficiency grant programmes for fuel poor households in England. Such programmes have existed for many years in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We regularly meet government advisors, civil servants and politicians and run broad based campaigns that seek to influence political party manifestos, local authority and health body programmes and Treasury spending commitments. We have also become a key port of call for commentary on topical energy issues from the media, highlighting the important work the Coalition has done.