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Almost 130,000 families in fuel poverty in cabinet ministers' seats - Liberal Democrats call for doubling and extending Warm Homes Discount and doubling winter fuel allowance, paid for by super-profits levy

January 10, 2022 5:45 PM

Ed DaveyPressure is mounting on the government to announce more support for people facing soaring energy bills, after analysis by the Liberal Democrats found almost 130,000 families in cabinet ministers' seats are living in fuel poverty.

The party's leader Ed Davey said the figures showed cabinet ministers are "turning a blind eye" to families in their own backyard who are struggling to pay soaring heating bills.

The research shows that several cabinet members including the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss have constituencies with an above-average proportion of households that are fuel poor.

In Liz Truss' seat of South West Norfolk, 7,896 families are fuel poor or 17% of households in the constituency, the highest number out of any cabinet minister after Stephen Barclay. Rishi Sunak's seat of Richmond in Yorkshire has 7,037 families in fuel poverty or 14.9% of households. This compares to an average 13.4% of households or 3.2 million living in fuel poverty across the country.

In Boris Johnson's own seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, 5,392 families are currently fuel poor. The analysis is based on official figures published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

In the Dominic Raab's seat of Esher and Walton there are 2,590 families living in fuel poverty. He has a slim majority of just over 2,700 over the Liberal Democrats, and is under growing pressure following the party's recent by-election successes in North Shropshire and Chesham and Amersham.

Liberal Democrats Leader Ed Davey said: "Cabinet ministers are turning a blind eye to families in their own backyard struggling with soaring heating bills.

"There is a growing revolt in the Conservative heartlands against Boris Johnson's government, and their failure to help people with the cost of living crisis is only making it worse.

"We need an urgent package of support now to help people cope with the cost of living crisis. That should include Liberal Democrats' calls for a Robin Hood tax on oil and gas firms seeing record profits, raising enough cash to give over seven million households £300 off their heating bills this year."

The Liberal Democrats' proposed windfall tax would be a one-off levy on firms who have made huge profits from record high gas prices. This would include oil and gas producers along with energy traders such as Gazprom's trading arm that profit from betting on fluctuations in energy prices. The levy would raise an estimated £5 billion to £7 billion. This would be spent on:

Doubling and extending the Warm Homes Discount (£2bn): Taking £300 a year off the heating bills of around 7.5 million vulnerable and low income households, by more than doubling the Warm Homes Discount and extending it to all those on Universal Credit and Pension Credit. This would also reduce energy bills for all households across the country, as currently the Warm Homes Discount is paid for by other customers rather than through taxing the super-profits of oil and gas companies.

Doubling the Winter Fuel Allowance (£1.9bn): Giving up to £600 a year to 11.3 million elderly pensioners to help with their heating bills, through a one-off doubling of the Winter Fuel Allowance. Pensioners are currently facing a £208 real-terms cut to the state pension next year due to the Conservative government's decision to scrap the triple lock. This would cost an estimated £1.9 billion.

A new ten-year home insulation scheme (£500m): This would be spent on reducing people's energy bills in the long-term through an emergency home insulation programme to upgrade poorly insulated UK homes - including through fully funded grants for those in fuel poverty and on low incomes. This would cost an estimated £500 million in the next year.

Supporting energy intensive businesses (£500m): This funding would be used to support businesses and protect jobs in energy-intensive industries, while helping firms reduce their need for energy in the long-term.

As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey oversaw a reduction in fuel poverty with over 1.8 million heating and energy efficiency measures for low income areas and households, and minimum energy efficiency standards introduced for the private rented sector. He launched a fuel poverty strategy for England in 2015 including new fuel poverty reduction targets, and oversaw the near quadrupling of the UK's renewable energy capacity, reducing the country's reliance on overseas gas.

Since 2015 the Conservatives have scrapped zero carbon standards for new homes, effectively banned onshore wind while slashing subsidies for solar, and failed to insulate the millions of energy efficient homes.