Government rules out extra help for off-grid homes this winter

The government has ruled out extra support for people living in off the energy grid homes this winter – for now.

South Holland and The Deepings MP, Sir John Hayes (Con), write to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero “what steps she is taking to help people who are living off the energy grid in rural areas with energy costs in winter 2023-24”?

In her written response the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Amanda Solloway (Derby North, Con) said:

“The Government understands there are approximately 2 million households in the UK who utilise heating oil as a source of energy. Fortunately, oil prices have fallen significantly from their 2022 peak and so there are currently no plans for the Alternative Fuel Payment scheme to be renewed for winter 2023/24.”

She went on to say:

“However, the Government will continue to monitor the situation and will keep options under review, including with respect to those households most vulnerable to unexpected price shocks if the market changes.”

In its Cost of Living Report, the RSN found that, on average, across local authorities in predominantly rural areas, 14.16% of dwellings were heated by oil or other off-the-grid options, against 1.58% of dwellings in predominantly urban areas. Being off the gas grid is associated with a higher incidence of fuel poverty. Of households living in properties not on the gas grid, 19.4% were fuel poor compared to 12.3% on the gas grid.

Furthermore, the research found that the median estimated energy cost of dwellings in predominantly rural areas was £808 per year, which was 10% more than in predominantly urban areas. Across all regions, the median estimated energy cost of dwellings was systematically higher in predominantly rural areas than in predominantly urban areas, with differences ranging from 4% in the South East to 17% in Yorkshire and the Humber, where the median energy cost reached its highest level at £887 in predominantly rural areas. These figures refer to the year ending 2021 and predate the rises in the energy price cap, so we can reasonably assume that the rural premium has further increased since.


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