Vulnerable rural households hit by discrepancies  

“We must focus on solutions that will address the unique issues associated with hard to treat rural properties,” says OFTEC’s CEO Paul Rose
As a new report shows the number of fuel poor households in England has risen to over 2.5 million OFTEC says recent revisions to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme don’t go far enough in ensuring that low income homes do not suffer at the expense of the government’s Clean Growth agenda. 
Despite government introducing the Fuel Poverty Strategy 2015, the number of households unable to afford to adequately heat their homes has risen by 210,000 to 2.55 million. 

 Published on 30th November 2018, new figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of excess winter deaths exceeded 50,000, the highest on record since the winter of 1975/76.  Over 15,000 of these deaths will be relatable directly to a cold home. 

In June this year, OFTEC welcomed the announcement from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that oil boilers will not, as initially proposed, be excluded from ECO3 which has now come into effect. However, the inclusion of oil does not extend to First Time Central Heating. 
This means that under the scheme, fuel poor households who currently rely on oil heating can have a broken oil appliance repaired or replaced and so continue to benefit from using the cheapest fuel for the off-grid sector.  
Latest industry figures from Sutherland Tables show the four-year average price of heating oil in Great Britain is 68% cheaper than LPG and 85% cheaper than electric (Economy 7), the two other main options available to rural homes.  
“Whilst the limited inclusion of oil in ECO3 was an important win for many low income and vulnerable off-grid households, it doesn’t go far enough,” commented Paul Rose, OFTEC CEO.  
“We fully support government’s Clean Growth Strategy, but the carbon reduction policy cannot be introduced to the detriment of the vulnerable and fuel poor.  The key objective of ECO must remain providing affordable warmth to address fuel poverty otherwise the number of households who can’t pay their heating bills will continue to rise.  
“This will in turn take an even greater toll on the NHS and the already unacceptably high number of excess winter deaths in this country as more vulnerable people suffer the health consequences of living in cold homes.  
“We must focus on solutions that will address the unique issues associated with hard to treat rural properties. Our proposed low carbon liquid fuel would provide an easy to implement alternative to kerosene which wouldn’t rely on improved insulation to deliver substantial carbon savings. Crucially for the fuel poor, economies of scale as liquid biofuel supplies improve and the fact that a blended fuel would initially be introduced, would also mean our solution remains cheaper than LPG, electric storage heaters or heat pumps into the future.”