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Call for changes to how clean energy is funded

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A prominent industry research group has said that the UK’s richest households should pay a greater contribution towards supporting subsidies for clean energy initiatives.

According to the UK Energy Research Centre (UKerc), the country’s wealthiest households should contribute an additional £410 a year towards supporting subsidies for solar energy, new wind farms and home insulation schemes.

The calls come just days after research from the University of Leeds revealed that existing UK energy policy was “disproportionately penalising” the nation’s poorest families.

Its report found that an additional tax paid by consumers which goes towards funding clean energy initiatives typically equates to around 10 per cent of poorer households’ total expenditure – while in richer households, the tax only equates to about three per cent.

Professor John Barrett, from the Sustainable Research Institute in Leeds, said that much more needed to be done to “ensure that those with the highest energy demand and the means to afford it, pay for the solutions” to the UK’s energy problems.

“It is essential that climate change policies do not cause further inequality by penalising families with the lowest energy consumption and who are most at risk of fuel poverty,” he said.

Following the comments, both Mr Barrett and UKerc are calling for immediate changes to the ways in which taxes towards clean energy are paid.

The group is urging the Government to consider charging richer families more at a time when subsidies for low-carbon power are expected to rise significantly in the coming years, as the UK invests more time and money in tackling the problem of climate change.

In 2016/17, subsidies for low-carbon power cost taxpayers £5.2 billion – a figure which is expected to rise to £8.6 billion by 2024/25.