19 Jun 2011

Fuel poverty: success at Cabinet

I have been chairing an inquiry into fuel poverty at the District Council - see here. The report I wrote was passed by Scrutiny and so this last Thursday the report went to Cabinet. I had the morning off work to attend the meeting and add any additional info necessary - well I am delighted the report was passed. Of course now I wish I had pushed for more! However it is a realistic next few steps that we must take if we are to take more action to tackle fuel poverty.

The link here covers the issues and what I have been seeking as chair of the inquiry. As noted it is deeply concerning that we face 15 to 16% of households in the district in fuel poverty and rising. Indeed last week The Times reported a million extra people face the prospect of fuel poverty within months with the gas price increases. While a representative of the Stroud District Older Persons forum told me this last week that they had visited Neil Carmichael to raise the issue of fuel poverty – particularly older people in rural areas and the cost of oil.

The inquiry Chris Huhne launched into fuel poverty earlier this year has now just closed to submissions and will report in the Autumn with a final report by January 2012. It cannot come too soon - as I have said before that I think it is shameful in an energy rich country that we see older and vulnerable people are skipping meals as Age UK have found, under-heating their homes, rationing their consumption of fuel – and increasing their exposure to ill-health, misery and depression. In 2007 60,000 excess deaths were attributed to cold in homes.

Last week a new study into the energy efficiency of Scottish housing. found that for every £1 spent on keeping homes warm and well insulated, the NHS could save 42 pence on health costs. A related report showed that bringing all homes to a ‘D’ rating in Scotland would support nearly 10,000 jobs and generate £613 million gross value added to the economy. 

It makes sense on so many fronts to tackle fuel poverty I find it hard to understand why there is not more leadership on this issue nationally.

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