Heat network customers still facing massive heating bills unsupported by any equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee
Heat Trust has welcomed the creation of a new government department focused on the UK’s energy crisis and is urging ministers to prioritise action for more than 500,000 households still locked out of support with their bills.
The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday (Tuesday, February 7) confirmed that a newly created Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will be tasked with securing the UK’s long-term energy supply and bringing down bills.
The government has also launched a £32 million fund to upgrade heat networks, with a view to improving their efficiency and making them cheaper to run for households.
Stephen Knight, Director of Heat Trust, the national consumer protection scheme for people living on heat networks, says that while the news is welcome, there are over half a million families living on communal or district heating schemes with many paying around three times as much for their heat as those with gas boilers. This is because there is still no equivalent financial support to the Energy Price Guarantee, five months after it was promised by the government.
Stephen Knight said: “We see the creation of the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero as a welcome signal that the government is prioritising energy policy, concerns around the market, and spiralling bills.
“Heat Trust has long called for investment to improve the efficiency and reliability of heat networks as a way to deal with rising consumer bills. The £32 million fund is a step in the right direction and will help create a better service for consumers.
“However, there is still no effective price support scheme in place for heat network customers, equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee protecting those with gas boilers – despite this being promised five months ago – leaving many customers paying around three times as much for heat as those with gas boilers. In practice, this means many customers simply cannot afford to heat their homes or run a bath.
“Some heat network customers, where their landlords also bill them for electricity, are still awaiting news on how they can access the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme that was promised by the government seven months ago.
“Despite promises that support for these households would be available by the end of January, a decision has once again been delayed. We might be in Spring by the time the money reaches families in this situation – we urge the government to make support available now.
“Heat networks hold massive potential for enabling the decarbonisation of heating, but customers must be at the centre of policy choices, so we look forward to hearing updates from the new department. We will continue to work with the government, energy companies, and landlords to ensure we all act in the best interest of consumers and facilitate incoming regulation.”