As winter arrives, Labour is failing on fuel poverty

December 2, 2009 10:45 AM

As temperatures drop, the average fuel bill is exceeding £1000 a year, and excess winter deaths have risen by 49% compared to last year, it has emerged that the "Warm Front" scheme trumpeted by Labour is in crisis this winter.

Households applying for help are being advised that they will need to wait six months before funding for insulation improvements will be available. Newcastle company Eaga, which administers the scheme, is having to delay work amid budget fears, and it is being reported that next year's budget is also being cut, leading to a doubling of the waiting list for work to be done to 60,000.

Greg Stone, Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman for Newcastle East, said "Some really good work has been done in Newcastle by the separate Newcastle Warm Zone scheme, but efforts to reduce fuel poverty in Newcastle are being badly affected by the rapid rise in fuel costs which are dragging more people into the choice between heating and eating. I am very concerned that the Government's Warm Front scheme, which is supposed to help households with insulation schemes, is experiencing some significant problems. Households who have to wait until next summer for work to be done are clearly not going to experience any benefit this winter.

With fuel bills rising and excess deaths rising, the Government is failing on fuel poverty. The record of Newcastle East MP Nick Brown is particularly shabby in this respect, given that he conveniently managed to claim £3000 on parliamentary expenses to install a new boiler at his Newcastle home whilst voting to sabotage a cross-party backbench private members bill to reduce fuel tariffs for the most vulnerable"