Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth are suing the government for being on course to break its statutory promise to eradicate fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010.
The charities yesterday launched a judicial review, after the government’s own independent advisers on fuel poverty found last month that its policies “have now made it impossible” to meet the 2010 target, predicting 1.3m households would remain affected.
The annual report of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group estimated that there were 2.3m vulnerable households in fuel poverty as of 2007, over double the level in 2003, since when energy prices had increased by over 50%. But it also criticised government policy, including a 25% cut in annual spending on the Warm Front programme, which provides means-tested grants to households for insulation and heating.
The two charities have accused the government of a “failure to provide a comprehensive and costed plan of action for meeting its targets”.
In last month’s Budget, the government announced it would work with energy companies to increase the annual amount they spent on social tariffs for vulnerable customers from £50m to £150m, and threatened legislation if voluntary action did not work.