Local MP supports fuel poverty bill

March 23, 2009 11:55 AM

Mark spoke out in support of the Fuel Poverty Bill

Last week in the House of Commons Cheadle MP Mark Hunter spoke up in support of and voted for the Fuel Poverty Bill to help an estimated 5,500 households in his constituency that live in fuel poverty.

The Bill would have obliged 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, and 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.

In Mark's constituency of Cheadle 15.8% of households are living in fuel poverty and there were 70 excess winter deaths in 2006-7 . Excess winter deaths are the difference between the number of deaths in the four winter months (December to March) compared with the number of deaths in the rest of the year. The UK has more excess winter deaths than any other country in the EU, including those that are colder than ours like Norway and Sweden.

Mr Hunter spoke out in favour of the Bill, which is being proposed by a Liberal Democrat colleague, David Heath MP. Mr Hunter emphasised how important this bill was for elderly people right across the country as the Government were failing to meet their targets for dealing with fuel poverty. The Bill was supported by MPs from all parties, but the Government 'talked out' the Bill and refused to support it, meaning the Bill did not gain enough votes to be passed.

Speaking after the debate Mr Hunter said: "It's appalling that the Government has refused to support this Bill. It was an excellent set of proposals which would have tackled this issue face on.

"It's a scandal that the UK has the highest number of excess winter deaths in the EU, and that the 70 pensioners in my constituency died in 2006-7 because the Government hadn't done enough to deal with the problem of fuel poverty. Pensioners right across the country are forced to choose between food and fuel, with many elderly people needing to turn off the heating in most of their house living in one room so that they can pay their fuel bills.

"The Government has simply not done enough to help pensioners struggling to keep warm and pay their bills and that's why my colleague David Heath has decided to take action and table this Bill which will make such a radical difference to the lives and health of elderly people everywhere."

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