On 19th October 2022, the House of Lords debated the Energy Prices Bill in its second reading. The Bishop of Manchester spoke in the debate, welcoming the bill whilst raising several points of concern:
The Lord Bishop of Manchester: My Lords, I am pleased to speak on this important and urgent piece of legislation. I declare my interest as deputy chair of the Church Commissioners’ board of governors. We own stocks in energy companies. In the light of today’s developments in the other place, I should perhaps also declare that I regularly eat tofu.
It is clear that the ongoing cost of living crisis and energy insecurity necessitate swift and comprehensive action. It is estimated that this will adversely impact up to 100,000 households in one of my local authorities, Manchester, this winter. A report published in August by the University of York predicted that more than three quarters of UK households—53 million people—will have been pushed into fuel poverty by January next. It is therefore very welcome that the Government are taking action to help the public and businesses survive the coming winter. It is also good to have the clarity set out in the Bill on the energy price guarantee and the energy bill relief scheme.
However, welcoming the Bill does not mean that I, or my colleagues on these Benches when they are here, believe that it is a latter-day Mary Poppins—practically perfect in every way. While we fully recognise the urgency of this legislation, we hope that His Majesty’s Government will take seriously the calls to amend certain of its details before we reach Committee next week.
Continue reading “Energy Prices Bill: Bishop of Manchester raises concerns on heating churches and the need for clarification of terms”
The Bishop of Durham received the following written answers on 7th March 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked Her Majesty’s Government how many people have so far requested assistance from the Household Support Fund.
Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con): Any requests for assistance from Household Support Fund will have been directed to Local Authorities, who are running the schemes in their local area.
Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks about household support fund, cold weather and winter fuel payments”
On the 17th July 2017, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster spoke in Lord Hollick’s debate to ‘takes note of the Report from the Economic Affairs Committee The Price of Power: Reforming the Electricity Market (2nd Report, Session 2016-17, HL Paper 113).’ He raised a number of points about the future of the energy market, including the importance of transparency and tackling fuel poverty.
Continue reading “Bishop of Chester reflects on future of electricity supply”
On 25th October 2016 Baroness Donaghy asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their estimate of the number of households currently in fuel poverty; and what action they intend to take to reduce that number.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, there is a particular problem with fuel poverty in rural areas, particularly remote rural areas. What steps are Her Majesty’s Government taking to promote the use of renewable forms of heating, especially in off-grid areas in the countryside? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about rural fuel poverty”
On 28th January 2016 Baroness Donaghy asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their estimate of the number of households currently in fuel poverty; and what action they intend to take to reduce that number over the next five years.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, one concern is prepaid meters, which are an expensive way of paying for fuel. Will the Minister update the House on what progress is being made to promote the five principles agreed between Consumer Focus and the largest energy groups some years ago—I think it was back in 2011? Furthermore, will Her Majesty’s Government ask the large energy companies to reconsider income-differentiated tariffs again? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government to engage with energy companies on prepaid meters”
On Thursday 18th June the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question to Government on fuel bills and Fuel Direct.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the affordability of a standard Fuel Direct rate of £3.70 for direct payments for arrears on fuel bills; and whether in setting that rate they considered (1) allowing some customers to pay a lower rate of direct deduction, and (2) allowing customers to pay by Fuel Direct for ongoing bills when they are not in arrears. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about fuel bill home budgeting”
On 29th January 2015, The Earl of Courtown asked Her Majesty’s Government what they are doing to ensure that the benefits of lower oil prices are passed on to consumers, particularly in rural areas. The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, will the Minister tell us what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to ensure that those on low incomes and living in the coldest homes are able to benefit from renewable heating technologies?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Baroness Verma): I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for his question, because this Government have, through many measures, not only tried to respond to people living in very inefficient homes in urban areas, but also looked at how to reach out to people who are often off grid and help support them through the renewable heat incentive and other measures. I am very happy to write to the right reverend Prelate about a number of measures undertaken by this Government.
On 23rd October the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, received a written answer to a question about addressing the higher fuel costs imposed by pre-payment meters.
Asked by The Lord Bishop of St Albans
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what were the outcomes of the round-table discussions convened by Ofgem over the summer with suppliers, consumer representatives, parliamentarians and the Government, particularly in relation to addressing the higher fuel costs imposed by pre-payment meters.[HL2157] Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about fuel costs and pre-payment meters”
On 18th August 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received answers to two written question on energy meters for lower income households.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the use of prepayment meters on the ability of lower income households to pay their energy bills.
Baroness Northover: Since 2010, all major suppliers have voluntarily equalised tariffs between prepayment customers and standard credit customers but the price differential between customers using pre-payment meters (PPM) and those paying by direct debit can be more than £100 for a dual-fuel customer.
Whilst paying by PPM is more common among fuel poor than non-fuel poor households, a majority of fuel poor customer pay by other payment methods.
Of households who were fuel poor in England in 2012, around 27% paid for their electricity and 22% paid for their gas through PPM. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans: Energy Meters (Written Answers)”
On 17th July 2014, Lord Ezra asked Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of the recently published statistical report on fuel poverty indicating a rising trend in 2014, they intend to expedite the announcement of their policy for dealing with the matter. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, those who keep a close eye on this area point out that issues of fuel poverty depend on which groups you look at. Clearly, in some groups this is a growing area. Indeed, they assert that there is a connection between the increase in fuel poverty of certain groups and the increase in the number of pre-paid meters that have been installed, partly because it is believed that they are the most expensive way to pay for fuel. In the light of that, can my noble friend tell us what consideration Her Majesty’s Government have given to promoting the five principles on the use of pre-paid meters which were agreed between Consumer Focus and the big six energy companies back in March 2011, to ensure consistency in their installation and use?
Baroness Verma: I am extremely grateful to the right reverend Prelate for his question, which enables me to reassure him and the House that we have looked very seriously at the pre-paid meter issue. We think that people on very low incomes must be among the greater beneficiaries of this policy, which is why we will make sure that through smart meters they are able to top up their meter as if they are topping up a mobile phone, so they have no chance of being cut off when they need their electricity the most.