LibLink: Robin Teverson: It is the fuel poor who are destined to feel the post Brexit chill

There are many ways in which Brexit will harm the poorest people in our society. The cost of heating their homes is one which Lib Dem Peer Robin Teverson highlighted in a article for Politics Home this week:

The good news is that excepting a major failure in replacing the Euratom regime that regulates our nuclear power sector, and if we manage to replicate Euratom’s nuclear cooperation agreements with our overseas nuclear equipment and fuel suppliers, Brexit blackouts are not the threat.

But even here there is little room for complacency. Our home-grown replacement for Euratom – the beefed-up Office for Nuclear Regulation – is by its own admission struggling to recruit and train new staff to meet international safeguarding standards. Being prepared for 29 March 2019 is a tough call.

Although the cost of imported energy will not rise due to tariffs – gas is zero-rated even under WTO rules, and the minimal tariffs on electricity are never applied – the risk is less-efficient energy trading pushing up prices, not least at periods of peak demand. Why this inefficiency?

Despite the prime minister’s bid to stay within the Internal Energy Market, the chances of the UK remaining in the IEM club seem remote. It is a part of the single market, with only EU and EEA states as players. UK’s red lines combined with the EU’s “no cherry picking” mantra make IEM membership a long-odds bet.

But IEM membership is the only way to share day-to-day operating codes, or to participate in market-coupling and the many agencies that make the system work. National Grid, as our systems operator, will no longer be around the table. Result: less-efficient trading, so increases in the cost of energy to consumers.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • I’m glad Robin Teverson has raised the issue of fuel poverty – though he inevitably links it to Brexit. However there is much more to it than that.

    I wish the Liberal Democrats had played a tougher card when in government in 2013. The Coalition Government amended the definition of fuel poverty in the Energy Bill. The changed definitions meant 2.4 million people were classed as fuel poor rather than the existing figure of 3.2 million.

    At the time, the all party Commons environmental audit committee pointed out “that currently families fall into the category if they spend more than 10% of income on fuel “to maintain an adequate level of warmth” – but the new indicators meant they were regarded as in hardship only if they have “above average fuel costs” that would leave them with “a residual income below the official poverty line”.

    Add to this the horrendously expensive Hinckley point contract negotiated by the Lib Dem Cabinet Minister at the time, and the impact of benefit cuts plus the introduction of Universal Credit and it is clear there is much more to fuel poverty than Brexit.

    Sadly Liberal Democrats must share some responsibility for the current situation on fuel poverty.

  • Jayne mansfield 8th Apr '18 - 11:24pm

    @ David Raw,
    Quite so. And the party still wonders why it is in the doldrums.

    You have remained a committed Liberal Democrat David, and I admire you for your tenacity in fighting for a party that you above all, are a wonderful exemplar.

    You, and those who shared your views, are the reason why I found the Liberals such a strong magnet and political home for someone like my younger self . A political grouping with whom I could identify, and who shared my values and nascent political views.

  • @ Jayne Mansfield The tenacity is much more pragmatic than it was, Jayne.

    My personal activities are now more focussed on practical outcomes – chairing my local Food Bank and in a small way trying to rectify the damage that I have described.

  • Peter Hirst 9th Apr '18 - 10:06am

    It is parliament’s responsibility to act in the general interests of the people of the country. If they fail to do so, democracy itself will suffer. With all the disinformation during the referendum, the electorate deserve some leadership from the mother of parliaments.

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