Saturday, 11 February 2012

GREENS CONDUCT FUEL POVERTY POLICY SURVEY

Kent Green Party has conducted a survey of Fuel Poverty(1) policies of local councils in Kent in recent weeks(2). Dr Hazel Dawe explains:

“Kent Green Party has conducted a survey of the Fuel Poverty policies of local councils in Kent, under Freedom of Information rules. Some examples:

Ashford is able to claim that all its homes are double glazed and fully insulated. Swale was able to make a similar claim. In general, councils gave evidence of more achievement in fighting energy inefficiency in social housing than they were able to give with reference to private rented accommodation. Thanet, as Kent’s poorest area, deferred to the County Council concerning fuel poverty which was a poor response and it is to be hoped the new administration in Thanet takes a more pro-active approach(3). Many initiatives do exist but resources are limited in relation to this major social need given declining household incomes in about half of all households in recent years. The Kent County Council fund of just £10,000 per district for ‘winter warmth support’ is also inadequate in the face of rising energy bills.

“Our Survey suggests that Councils do have the will to deal with fuel poverty and are taking action but that resources are very limited due to excessive spending cuts. We are also concerned that we have been unable to find any appreciable evidence of councils taking private sector landlords to court for failing to provide adequate accommodation, which includes issues like reasonable insulation, double glazing, protection against damp and adequate heating facilities according to the needs of tenants(4).

“The UK position is that one in four households now suffer from fuel poverty(5). The average UK household will be in fuel poverty by 2015, if energy prices continue to rise (6).”

Ends c 265 words

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

Notes:

1. 1. Fuel Poverty means a household has to spend more than 10% of its income on energy.

2. 2. The full replies from local councils will appear shortly on the Kent Green Party website in the publications section: www.kentgreenparty.org Journalists may request a copy direct from press@kentgreenparty.org

3. 3. Due to a defection, Thanet District Council is now run by Labour.

4. This is significant as a contribution to Climate Change in the UK as an example of the UK’s general inefficiency in the use of energy in buildings. SEE: Cold Weather Drives UK Emissions Up 3.1 Percent In 2010: http://planetark.org/wen/64641 AND Fuel Poverty: More than 5.5 million households are suffering under fuel poverty, many being forced to choose between heating or eating. Meanwhile the Big Six energy suppliers increased their profit margins by 733 per cent in just three months last year. Enough is enough. The Independent supports a campaign to force energy companies to share their profits with the needy. The aim is simple: to make essential home energy affordable to all. Independent 10th Feb 2012 http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/end-energy-profiteering-the-rich-get-richer-the-poor-get-colder-6699873.html

5. 5. Consumer Focus: One in four households now suffer from fuel poverty: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/household-bills/8930847/One-in-four-households-suffer-from-fuel-poverty.html

6. 6. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f4213ec2-f287-11e0-931e-00144feab49a.html#axzz1lbJL3cxB Kent Green Party concludes that the Government must take action to empower OFGEM to reduce energy industry profiteering. However, investment required in the national Grid and in renewable energy will be needed to avoid rising oil and gas prices under conditions of scarcity. This means that benefits, pensions and the minimum wage will have to rise to avoid increases in excess winter deaths which – in the last winter – were about 25,000.

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