Kate Hollern: Tackling fuel poverty under Labour

Tackling Fuel Poverty under Labour

In the past four years the average energy bill has gone up by a staggering £300 – that’s twice as fast as inflation and four times faster than wages. So it’s no surprise that millions of households now struggle to meet the cost of keeping their homes warm.

That’s why Ed Milliband at last year’s Labour Party Conference set out radical plans to freeze energy prices until 2017, saving the average household £120, and pledged to overhaul the energy market, with a tough new regulator to curb rip-off bills – which will go a long way to towards cutting prices and bringing fairness to the market.

But to keep bills down permanently we need to reduce the amount of energy we consume – and that’s why Labour have now declared war on cold homes with a comprehensive package of energy efficiency measures to keep homes warm.

Homes that lose most heat cost more to keep warm, and there is a strong correlation between a property’s energy efficiency rating and the likelihood of a household being in fuel poverty. Britain has some of the least energy efficient housing stock anywhere in Europe – and that means even consumers in colder countries with higher energy prices can have lower bills.

In Blackburn alone, there are currently 6,236 people living in fuel poverty, the highest percentage inLancashire which is an absolute disgrace and has to be urgently addressed.

Under Labour plans, households in fuel poverty – and those at most at risk of falling into it – would receive a ‘whole house’ energy efficiency retrofit – upgrading their energy rating to band C and cutting bills by an estimated £273 a year on average. This is a huge difference to the present system, where not all the funds raised for energy efficiency go to the most in need. In addition, rather than just install a particular measure in a home, we will for the first time be improving the whole property. This is how we will make serious inroads into fuel poverty.

For those in the rented sector, we will go further by working to ensure there is a decency standard to improve housing quality and cut energy bills by 2027.

In Government, Labour will act quickly to address the inequalities and profiteering within the energy market by reforming the market and introducing a price freeze. But we will also go further to keep bills low by cutting the amount of energy we use and therefore tackling the roots of fuel poverty in the years ahead.

 

Author: Kate Hollern

Kate is the leader of the Labour opposition group on Blackburn with Darwen Council.

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