Cheadle MP pledges to end fuel poverty misery

March 18, 2009 5:32 PM
Fuel Poverty

Mark alongside pensioner Margaret Joseph in a mocked-up living room promising to end the misery of fuel poverty

Cheadle MP Mark Hunter has promised to end the misery of fuel poverty by voting in favour of a new law to help the most vulnerable people keep their homes warm - and has taken part in a 'sit-in protest' outside Parliament to show his commitment.

Mark Hunter made the pledge alongside pensioner Margaret Joseph in a mocked-up living room as part of a push by Friends of the Earth, Help the Aged and a host of other charities to support the Fuel Poverty Bill.

If passed, the Bill will:

- Oblige the Government to ensure that the homes of those living in fuel poverty are brought up to a high standard of energy efficiency, using super insulation and renewable energy technologies;

- Introduce a mandatory 'social tariff' scheme where people who struggle to heat their home get help to ensure they pay the lowest energy prices until their house is brought up to a high standard of energy efficiency.

Taken together, the measures in the Bill could reduce households' energy use by up to 70 per cent and ensure that those struggling to pay their fuel bills pay the lowest energy prices. Around four million households that struggle to keep warm will be brought up to a high standard of heat and energy efficiency by 2016 - making their homes 'fuel poverty-proof'.

Mark Hunter MP said: "Over the winter months millions of people across Britain struggle to afford to heat their homes, including four out of five single pensioners. The Fuel Poverty Bill being proposed by Liberal Democrat MP David Heath would deliver a massive home insulation programme which would halve the energy needed to heat the average home. And it would end the scandal of those who use pre-pay meters, generally the least well-off, paying higher rates for their gas and electricity.

"The Bill has the enthusiastic support of organisations that represent the vulnerable, from Age Concern to Disability Alliance to the Child Poverty Action Group. And because it would also cut harmful carbon emissions it also has the strong backing of environmental campaigners like Friends of the Earth. The bill is scheduled for second reading debate in the House of Commons on Friday March 20th. It is important that as many MPs as possible are in Parliament to support it. Not many MPs are likely to actually oppose it, but it needs 100 supportive MPs in Parliament on that day to ensure it cannot be blocked undemocratically.

"That is why I have cleared my diary to enable me to be in Parliament on March 20th to vote for the bill and help ensure it passes its first hurdle."

Friends of the Earth's Executive Director Andy Atkins said: "Fuel poverty is a national scandal that leads to misery and even death for millions of people in the UK each year. Rather than paying good money to heat up the air outside their homes, we want to see a new law backing measures to ensure all homes keep people warm and that the poorest aren't hit by extortionate energy bills.

"Tackling fuel poverty will also cut carbon emissions from our homes - responsible for a quarter of the UK's climate-changing emissions. If passed, the Fuel Poverty Bill will create thousands of new jobs. We're delighted that Mark Hunter MP has pledged to vote to ensure a strong Fuel Poverty Bill and end the suffering of vulnerable people in Cheadle and elsewhere."

Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser to Help the Aged, Says: "Fuel poverty and climate change are pivotal issues for our time and they are intrinsically linked. Voting for the Fuel Poverty Bill is an important step towards addressing the struggle faced by the millions older people who on any given day may need to choose whether to heat their homes or eat a hot meal.

"It is high time Parliament got to grips with what can be a life and death problem for so many older people and it's great Mark Hunter has given his support to the Bill. There are hard choices that need to be made in order to protect vulnerable people from a situation where a warm home is simply out of reach."

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