Current uSwitch figures dictate that fuel poverty affects 6.3 million households in the UK. With almost 30,000 deaths blamed on low incomes and high energy bills, John Penny, Policy Advisor at the Chartered Institute of Housing, offered solutions to the audience at Solar Power UK in Birmingham today.

The key resolutions, other than to improve disposable income, is to reduce fuel costs through the use of solar PV as well as improving insulation and to reduce consumption by educating the general populace on the advantages of replacing traditional energy generation with renewables.

A further solution – tying in with Prime Minister David Cameron’s “Big Society” theme – was to introduce community energy schemes. This initiative is already commonplace in Germany and Scandinavia, gaining popularity in Scotland, but yet to make a big impression in England and Wales.

With increased ownership and control of energy generation assets between local customers, economic development as well as civic engagement could positively impact fuel poverty. Unfortunately, in England, barriers such as an unskilled work force, limited financing options, the lack of available land and planning regulation limitations are holding back progress.

Stephen Cirell, from a consultancy firm providing specialist climate change services to local government and the public sector demanded Local Authorities play a more active role in bringing renewable energy to the public with carbon budgets. Furthermore, tenders, already in place throughout Europe, could facilitate the uptake of solar power, with a “Green Programme” in place to encourage a strategic approach to inspire confidence in local communities to bring themselves out of fuel poverty.