New government plan to tackle fuel poverty
Published on 14 October 2013 02:00 PM
People aged over 75 are among those who will benefit most from a new £900,000 Government plan to tackle fuel poverty.
Qualifying households will get special help to reduce energy costs.
The scheme, to be introduced in time for winter, will recruit 500 energy advisers through such charities as Age UK and National Energy Action.
These volunteers will give guidance and support sessions to vulnerable households to help them change to more energy efficient offers and tariffs.
'Thousands of older people face a daily battle to stay warm'
The announcement by energy secretary Ed Davey, on October 13, identifies vulnerable households - those containing people aged over 75 or children under five, or those where a person is suffering a long-term sickness or disability.
The move is in response to fears of a marked increase in deaths caused by a hike in energy bills, with Lib Dem minister, Mr Davey, admitting: 'The rate of excess winter deaths is too high.'
Mr Davey said in a statement to the Sunday Express: 'It's unrealistic to talk about an unlimited budget but the most sustainable way of tackling fuel poverty is to improve domestic energy efficiency.'
His announcement followed last week's furore over rising fuel bills, fuelled by an 8% price increase reported by 'Big Six' energy giant SSE on October 10.
Fuel poverty levels 'a national disgrace'
Derek Lickorish, chairman of the government's Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, is worried Britain will experience a rise in winter deaths this year, unless action is taken.
Mr Lickorish added: 'We know more people are getting into debt and that energy prices have far outstripped wages. People are struggling.'
Age UK Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, called fuel poverty levels 'a national disgrace', with the old among the worst affected.
She said that energy bills are already a massive concern for many older people who will be dreading another round of price hikes.
Ms Abrahams added: 'Many thousands of older people face a daily battle to stay warm during winter, risking their health by keeping the heating low to avoid a bill they can't afford.'
Age UK said that 1.7 million older people cannot afford to heat their homes adequately.
The charity also calculates that cold homes cost the English NHS over £1.36 billion every year in health problems including heart attacks, strokes and breathing difficulties.
Copyright Press Association 2013