Ofgem encourages gas network companies to do more to tackle fuel poverty

Press release
  • Ofgem wants gas network companies to connect more fuel poor consumers to the gas grid, where gas is the right solution.
  • Ofgem is consulting on how to extend the scheme to support district heating.
  • Ofgem also publishes update on its review of the support provided for vulnerable consumers by suppliers and network companies.

Ofgem is today calling on network companies to connect more customers to the gas grid, where it is the cheapest option for fuel poor consumers. This will help tackle fuel poverty, as gas consistently remains one of the least expensive sources of energy. 

Following a review of the Fuel Poor Network Extension Scheme, Ofgem believes gas network companies can connect more eligible households to the gas grid than the 77,000 originally planned for delivery between 2013 and 2021. They must now resubmit their plans to Ofgem for consideration.

Where a gas connection would not offer the best value for consumers, Ofgem wants network companies to work with organisations such as fuel poverty groups and suppliers to assist fuel poor consumers.

The proposals also state that the scheme should be extended to support district heating to assist more vulnerable and low income households. Ofgem is now consulting on this and some other planned changes to the scheme. We expect the revised scheme to be in place from 1 April 2016.

Maxine Frerk, senior partner for distribution, said: “By encouraging gas network companies to connect more consumers to the gas grid, we’re playing our part in supporting those in fuel poverty in Great Britain.

“We also want network companies and their partners to work more closely with suppliers and fuel poverty groups on improvement works, such as new boilers, radiators and internal pipework, to ensure consumers get the full benefit from the new connections provided by the scheme.”

Separately today, Ofgem has published an update on its review of the Priority Services Register. The register currently provides eligible consumers of pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick with additional assistance from energy companies. Ofgem is revising the eligibility criteria to ensure that people who really need the services get them. Ofgem also wants to see improved awareness of the register and data sharing between energy companies to ensure vulnerable consumers are better identified.


Notes to editors

1. Our decision/consultation

The Fuel Poor Network Extension Scheme enables households that are eligible for assistance to switch to natural gas, by helping towards the cost of connecting to the gas network.

The scheme is delivered by the Gas Distribution Network (GDN) operators. It was introduced in the previous price control period (GDPCR 1, 2008-2013) during which the GDNs connected 43,615 fuel poor households. Ofgem has reviewed the scheme as it committed to doing so during the RIIO-GD1 price control. The scheme will continue until at least 2021. Ofgem believes that GDN operators can connect more low income and vulnerable households during RIIO-GD1 than the 77,450 originally envisaged.

Ofgem is also today launching a consultation on some proposed changes to the scheme, including extending the scheme to cover district heating solutions. The consultation is open until 18 June 2015.

See the findings of our review of the Fuel Poor Network Extension Scheme.

2. Priority Services Register (PSR)

See our review of the PSR (update and next steps).

Ofgem plans to publish its final proposals for the PSR later in 2015.

For further press information contact:

Lisa O’Brien: 020 7901 7426
Dafydd Wyn: 020 3263 9943

Out of hours media contact number: 07766 511470