Media reacts to End Fuel Poverty Map of England

The media and the public have been reacting to the publication of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s new Index revealing the areas worst affected by fuel poverty.

Media coverage for the launch of the map has been widespread with Sky News leading on the story alongside coverage in the Big Issue, The Guardian, The i, Politics.co.uk, ITV, LBC and Yahoo! The story even got international attention with broadcasters in Japan, Germany and the Netherlands talking about the issue and EuroNews running an in-depth look at the crisis.

As the number of households in fuel poverty is expected to pass 4m this winter, the Government and councils are feeling the heat to act.

A petition has been launched by campaign website Action Storm so people can send a message to the UK Government.

Meanwhile, local authorities have been put under pressure to pass the End Fuel Poverty Coalition motion to take action on the ground.

The motion can be read online (http://www.endfuelpoverty.org.uk/end-fuel-poverty-councillor-pledge/end-fuel-poverty-council-motion/) and the public can write to councillors to ask them to table the motion at a session of the council.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:

Councils play a hugely important role in the fight against cold homes. They work with landlords and housing providers to ensure that all rental properties in the area are let to a decent standard. By working with local health bodies and community groups, they can identify and support those most at risk from the negative impacts of fuel poverty.

Local authorities must have the resources needed to properly enforce energy efficiency regulations which keep older people and families safe. As we approach the winter, no one must go cold and unwell for fear of the cost of turning the heating on. Longer term, we need to see greater investment from the government in energy efficiency programmes, which will help lower bills, reduce anxiety for those in cold homes and protect people against any future surges in fuel costs.

Brighton & Hove Council Pledge Action on Fuel Poverty

Brighton and Hove City Council has declared fighting fuel poverty a local priority.

Working with the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, the councillors developed a motion to examine the ways the local authority can tackle the problem.

The Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Nancy Platts, said:

More than one in ten households in Brighton and Hove live in fuel poverty – that is above average for the south east.

Cold homes are linked to illness and winter deaths during normal winter weather. But, as the temperature drops below 6C, winter death rates increase.

More people die from cold homes than they do alcohol, Parkinson’s disease or traffic accidents.

She led a debate about fuel poverty at a meeting of the full council at Hove Town Hall on Thursday (30 January).

Green group convenor Phélim Mac Cafferty said that people were forced to choose between heating and eating. Councillor Mac Cafferty said:

Access to sustainable energy is vital to keep our residents’ fuel bills down.

Renewable energy run by and for our communities offers all of us the opportunity to combat climate change, bring down fuel bills, improve energy efficiency and reach people in fuel poverty.

The Council motion pledges to examine ways that the authority can take action to tackle fuel poverty. All local authorities have measures at their disposal which can help fight the issue, these include:

  1. improving energy efficiency of Council / housing association housing stock
  2. better enforcement of existing regulations on energy efficiency and property standards
  3. publishing a statement of intent to access Energy Company Obligation funding via LA Flex
  4. improving tenants’ rights
  5. providing information advice and guidance to those most in need

Fuel Poverty Coalition members including the London Borough of Camden helped to identify the ways councils can help beat fuel poverty and a template motion for other local authorities to use is available from the Coalition by emailing info@endfuelpoverty.org.uk.

The Council has also pledged to join the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.

Image by Clive D / Flickr / Creative Commons