'Spend more on insulating homes'
More resources should be put into insulating homes to reduce fuel poverty, campaigners said today.
Revenue should be diverted to energy efficiency measures, said the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group (FPAG).
The organisation's chairman Derek Lickorish said: "With a cold winter, rising energy bills and a worrying increase in winter deaths, the plight of the fuel poor has never been more serious.
" The only sustainable solution to end the misery and health inequalities of living in a cold home is to improve its energy efficiency through insulation measures."
He called on the Government to use some of the £4bn in annual carbon taxes "set to be regressively collected from energy bills" to help tackle the problem of cold homes with a much more ambitious programme of home insulation as part of a cross-government initiative led by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
He said: "At a time of increasing bills, up some 140% since 2005 when pay rises were up only 30% over the same period, it is perverse that the only apparent debate about 'green taxes' has been focused on aspects that actually reduce energy bills.
"Over the next 15 years, some £63 billion will be added to energy bills through the carbon floor price and EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
"If the Chancellor were to divert some of this revenue to energy efficiency programmes we could provide many more fuel-poor consumers with a warmer healthier and safer home that is more affordable to heat, and also take a major step towards meeting the UK's legally binding carbon reduction targets whilst also creating further economic growth at the same time."
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said the Government had unveiled plans "that will save households around £50 on average on their bills".
He added: "We've already increased competition, brought new players to the market to offer consumers real choice, and the most vulnerable are getting direct help with their bills this winter, with winter fuel payments worth up to £300, cold weather payments worth up to £25 a week and £135 off bills of two million households through the Warm Home Discount.
"In the spring of 2014, we will publish the fuel poverty strategy but we are already taking action and our analysis shows that government policies will save, on average, £166 on bills by 2020. "