Sunday, 4 December 2011

COUNCILS MUST PREPARE FOR FUEL POVERTY CRISIS

Kent Green Party is urging Council Chief Executives throughout Kent to prepare for a fuel poverty crisis this winter. Dr Hazel Dawe explains:

“One in four households in the UK are now in fuel poverty(1). The combination of massive increases in energy bills and the gradual phasing out of the Government’s Warm Front insulation programme by 2013 are the main causes(2). Since over 25,000 people died of the cold last winter in the UK, a cold snap during this winter could easily lead to more premature deaths.

“Kent Green Party has written to the Council Chief Executives throughout Kent and Medway to ask them to urgently allocate more resources and staff to fuel poverty and energy efficiency. This process needs to include more inspections of private rental properties by Environmental Health Officers, as well as ensuring social housing is properly insulated.

“People experiencing difficulty paying their energy bills, or being forced to choose between eating and heating, can also contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99(3) to get advice on staying warm this winter."

Ends 182 words

FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr Hazel Dawe, Campaigns Officer, KENT GREEN PARTY on 01732 355185 or 07747 036192. Contact address as above. Published by Kent Green Party and promoted by H.Dawe, both at 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF. KENT GREEN NEWS, free monthly ezine, is available at www.kentgreenparty.org

Notes:

1. Fuel Poverty means more than 10% of household income is being used for energy bills. Fuel Poverty has increased from one in five households to one in four in a year: Guardian 1st December 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/01/fuel-poverty-affects-quarter-households

2. Fuel Poverty: Letter from various: the government should be highly embarrassed by

new estimates that one in four English households is now in fuel poverty. But its reaction to this escalating problem would sadly suggest the contrary. Warm Front, the government's one remaining grant programme for the fuel-poor, has had its budget slashed by two-thirds over the next two years and will end completely in 2013. Even more worrying was last week's government consultation on the new Energy Company Obligation(ECO), which is designed to subsidise energy efficiency measures for low-income and vulnerable households from 2013. With 4.1m English households officially in fuel poverty in 2009 and with a government duty to eradicate this scourge by 2016 we hoped that the consultation would include ambitious plans for tackling the problem. Instead we find that, even on the most ambitious estimates, the ECO will bring relief to only 840,000 fuel-poor households by the end of 2015. This will mean at least 3m households left to choose between heating and eating. Guardian 2nd Dec 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/02/government-cold-on-fuel-poverty

3. Caroline Lucas MP said: "It is completely unacceptable that millions of people across the UK are still struggling to keep their homes warm and protect their families from the cold - with excess winter deaths reaching 25,000, increasing by 38% during the cold snap last December, and over 5,000 households in Brighton Pavilion alone (1) stuck in fuel poverty. If the Government is serious about eradicating fuel poverty by 2016, it must radically improve housing standards, curb the power of the big energy companies to charge what they like, and put in place measures to help fuel-poor households. In the meantime, I urge people to contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 to get advice on staying warm this winter."

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