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Energy Act 2010

Commentary on Sections

Section 9: Schemes for reducing fuel poverty

44.This section gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations to create schemes that will require energy suppliers to give benefits to defined groups of customers for the purpose of reducing fuel poverty (subsections (1) to (3)). Subsection (4) provides that such schemes can apply to suppliers of electricity and/or gas.

45.Subsections (5) and (6) give the Secretary of State the power to specify in a scheme which types of customers would be eligible to receive support through the scheme. A scheme may provide for eligible customers to be identified through membership of a fuel poverty risk group (as defined by the Secretary of State), by energy suppliers or by the Secretary of State directly determining eligibility (for example through a data-matching scheme(9) or by issuing vouchers or letters which confirm that a person is eligible to receive benefits through the scheme). Subsection (6) provides that where eligibility is determined by scheme suppliers, provision may be included setting out requirements about criteria to be applied in determining which customers are eligible.

46.Subsections (7)(a) and (8) give the Secretary of State the power to set the form of benefits and the ways in which benefits are to be given to customers. This could, for example, include a rebate on customers’ electricity bills. They also allow for benefits to be provided in the form of goods or services.

47.Subsections (7)(b) and (9) give the Secretary of State power to make provision in a scheme about the amounts of benefits to be provided under the scheme. Subsections (9)(a) and (b) enable this to include provision to set the total value of benefits to be provided by all energy suppliers or the aggregate value of benefits that each individual supplier is required to make available in a specified time period, and the value of the benefit that energy suppliers are required to provide to individual customers.

48.Subsection (9)(c) enables a scheme to make provision as to how any amount is to be determined for the purposes of the scheme: that is to say, either an aggregate amount of benefits provided or to be provided by a scheme supplier, or an amount provided or to be provided to an individual customer. These provisions may in particular be for:

  • determining the amount of any benefit provided under the scheme (paragraph (c)(i));

  • any determination to be made by a scheme supplier (paragraph (c)(ii));

  • allowing benefits required to be provided under one scheme to be calculated by reference to benefits provided under another scheme (paragraph (c)(iii));

  • treating payments by a supplier (for example, in respect of the costs of identifying which customers are entitled to benefits, or in continuing existing support mechanisms which are being provided under the Voluntary Agreement) as benefits provided under the scheme (paragraph (c)(iv));

  • adjustment of amounts of benefits provided by a supplier by reference to payments made or received by the supplier under a reconciliation mechanism (see section 11) (paragraph (c)(v)); and

  • making arrangements for allowing energy suppliers certain flexibilities in the time profile of expenditure (paragraph (c)(vi)).


Where personal data owned by Government is compared with a third party’s data, and where a match is found a specific action is taken. It is necessary to have primary powers in order to share and match data in this way. An example is the powers taken in the Pensions Act 2008 which gave the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the power to share data on Pension Credit recipients with energy suppliers for the purpose of offering social assistance. A data-matching process in this case would compare DWP records for a selected subset of Pension Credit recipients with the energy suppliers’ customer base data, to identify a particular subset of that customer base to receive assistance in the form of a fixed rebate.

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