There are claims a UK law will give the government the power to issue £15,000 fines or jail people if their homes don’t comply with energy efficiency standards.
The claim is false. The Energy Act 2023 doesn’t empower the government to issue fines or jail people over standards.
While there is a provision within the Act for imposing punishments if the parliament later decides to, further legislation would be required.
The post includes a September 2023 video from UK YouTube channel Geoff Buys Cars.
“Individuals can be fined up to £15,000 and face prison for failing to meet energy performance levels,” he says.
“This isn’t talking about energy companies. There’s no governmental interest in restricting what the energy companies are allowed to do.
“This is about you and owning your home. So if you own an old home, and the government changes the rules on the energy efficiency certificate level that your home needs to achieve, and you decide: ‘You know what, I’m not doing that,’ they can fine you up to £15,000, or put you in prison, for not improving your home in line with the energy goals.”
Similarly, the Instagram post’s caption reads: “The Govt will have the power to issue 15000 Pound Fines or Jail time if your House isn’t up to Energy Efficient coded. If you can’t comply or pay the fines, your home may be repossessed …”
The Act became law on October 26 last year. However, the claims relating to supposed punishments are false.
The relevant part of the Act is Section 252 (Sanctions) which refers (in clauses 2 and 3) to civil penalties not exceeding £15,000 and criminal offences not exceeding 12 months’ imprisonment.
However, both clauses begin with the words “Energy performance regulations may provide for …”, meaning the Act has not yet provided powers for the penalties to be issued.
The House of Commons Library explains in its “frequently asked questions” about the Energy Bill that separate legislation would be required for any such penalties.
Under the question “Does the Energy Bill mean I could be fined or sent to prison if I don’t improve the energy efficiency of my home?”, it reads: “No. There are no existing penalties for failing to meet specific energy performance targets or installing technologies, such as heat pumps.
“The Energy Bill itself would not create any new criminal offences or penalties, although it would allow the Government to do so via separate secondary legislation.
“Any new criminal offence or penalty would need to be approved by Parliament, separately to the Bill, before it could become law. The Government has said that it doesn’t intend to amend or extend criminal offences and that it would consult before introducing new regulations.”
British Conservative MP Lee Anderson addressed the claims in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on September 10, 2023.
“I have seen quite a few comments on social media stating that MPs have voted to send people to prison for a year or fine them £15,000 for not adhering to rules set out in the Energy Bill,” he posted.
“This is not true at all, and Government has no plans to create any new offences. The Minister was quite clear about this in his closing remarks at the Dispatch Box last week.”
He was referring to Andrew Bowie, the minister for nuclear and renewables, who told parliament on September 5: “I want to be absolutely clear: we are simply seeking to replace the power to amend the energy performance of premises regime, which was lost as we departed the EU. Brexit gives us the power to do that.
“I can categorically guarantee before the House that we are not creating new offences.”
The claim has been debunked in this Full Fact article, which points out some Acts do not provide the full details of the new law but create powers for the government to enact those details through secondary legislation.
According to this briefing by UK legal advisers Latham & Watkins, the Energy Act 2023 details the UK’s approach to achieving energy independence and its net zero obligations.
The claim law will give the UK government the power to fine or even jail people if their homes don’t meet energy efficiency standards is false.
The Energy Act 2023 provides no such powers. Separate legislation would be required for any new criminal offences and penalties.
False – The claim is inaccurate.