Sunday, 28 October 2012

FUEL POVERTY WILL GROW WITH ENERGY COMPANY PROFITEERING

Kent Green Party conducted a survey of Fuel Poverty(1) policies of local councils in Kent in February 2012(2). We found that local councils were resisting fuel poverty in social housing but less so in private rented properties. Dr Hazel Dawe explains how large energy bill price increases this winter will hit those on fixed or low incomes:
“Kent Green Party notes that 5 major energy companies are putting up energy bills by an average of about 8.4%. Many initiatives do exist to help those who already have difficulty paying energy bills but money is too limited to help all of those in need in Kent and Medway. This situation is aggravated by declining real household incomes in about half of all households in recent years.
“Our February 2012 Survey suggested that Councils in Kent do have the will to deal with fuel poverty but are constrained by excessive spending cuts. Winter warmth support at about £10,000 per district is inadequate(3). 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 warm accommodation, by installing 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 were suffering from fuel poverty(5) even before the new increases in energy bills. All average UK households will be in fuel poverty by 2015, if energy prices continue to rise (6).”
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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.      Fuel Poverty means a household has to spend more than 10% of its income on energy.
2.      The full replies from local councils are on the Kent Green Party website in the publications section: www.kentgreenparty.org
3.      KCC has allocated £10,000 for winter warmth support to each district. This will not cover much new insulation improvement or the need for double glazing in poor quality private rented accommodation.
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 in 2011. The Independent newspaper 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.      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. 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  winter of 2010-2011  were about 25,700: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2010-11--provisional--and-2009-10--final-/stb-ewm-2010-11.html This is the latest information available, the 2011-2012 winter figures should be out before the end of the year.


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