Energy bills are set to rise by about 15% for most households in the UK over the next few weeks. Since fuel poverty doubled to cover 4 million people from 2002-2007 (1), this increase threatens to dramatically put at risk many more households. Up to 30,000 people are estimated to die prematurely each winter in the UK due to fuel poverty – about 800-900 in Kent(2). The Government has only allocated enough funds for one fuel poverty officer for each local authority, which is nowhere near enough to prevent people dying from the cold in a supposedly rich country.
Steve Dawe comments: “Fuel poverty officers in our local councils are supposed to deal with insulation, heating issues, advising on grants for the elderly and providing a first point of call for advice on renewable energy for homes. This is mission impossible, even with the capable assistance of the Kent Energy Centre."
“The Government has to match energy bill increases with creating more local council posts to resist fuel poverty, increase energy efficiency and spread renewable energy technologies. Kent Green Party suggests at least three full time staff members will be needed by each local council to make progress in these areas. Is the Government serious about dealing with fuel poverty or climate change? If so, where’s the money?”
FURTHER INFORMATION:Steve Dawe on 01732 355185 or mobile 07747 036192. Contact address as above. Notes:
1. Brenda Boardman – Home Truths: a low carbon strategy to reduce UK housing emissions by 80% by 2050. (University of Oxford, Environmental Change Institute, November 2007) p.5.
2. Numbers in fuel poverty in Kent by district, latest available figures: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm071029/text/71029w0023.htm
Borough/District council area - Number of households in fuel poverty - % households in fuel poverty
Ashford - 3,151 - 7%
Canterbury - 3,343 - 6%
Dartford - 2,004 - 6%
Dover - 2,886 - 7%
Maidstone - 3,272 - 6%
Medway - 6,203 - 6%
Sevenoaks - 2,475 - 6%
Shepway - 2,559 - 6%
Swale - 3,136 - 6%
Thanet - 3,657 - 7%
Tonbridge and Mailing - 2,434 - 6%
Tunbridge Wells - 2,480 - 6%