NEW government plans to help combat fuel poverty will unfairly penalise the 36,000 households in Wiltshire who use oil to heat their home, according to trading association OFTEC.

Under proposals to update the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, which is aimed at supporting fuel-poor households with energy saving measures, households which use oil heating will no longer be able to repair or replace an old or faulty boiler with a new oil appliance. However, people using gas heating would be eligible for a boiler repair or replacement.

OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, says this would make it hard for Wiltshire residents to heat their homes affordably.

Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC said: “The fact that fuel poverty levels are already higher in rural areas such as Wiltshire where a large number of oil using consumers live makes government proposals to omit oil boilers from the next round of ECO even more nonsensical.

“The situation could be acceptable if affordable alternative heating solutions to oil existed, but the simple fact is that currently, they don’t. As a result, many already financially vulnerable people may be encouraged to replace their oil heating system with a more expensive alternative that they just can’t afford to run.

Oil-heated households may still be allowed to fit other heating systems, such as LPG and air source heat pumps, but these solutions currently cost £505 and £633 more respectively each year to run so fuel bills would soar as a result. By contrast, a new oil boiler would reduce their costs by £231.