22nd October 2012
MP acts to help fuel poverty vulnerable
Local MP Gordon Henderson has hosted a roundtable discussion in Sittingbourne to address the problem of fuel poverty in his constituency and to discuss how best vulnerable people can be helped.
Mr Henderson was joined at the meeting by representatives from Age UK, Seashells, Swale Borough Council, the Kent County Council, Amicus Horizon, National Energy Action (NEA), Turn2us and E.on.
The main aim of the discussion was for local organisations with an interest in helping those most at risk from fuel poverty, particularly the elderly, the very young and the unemployed, to share information with the NEA, a charity that focuses on fuel poverty and whose Campaigns Officer, Piya Malik, did a presentation about the affects of fuel poverty and some of the solutions that are available.
There was a presentation also by a representative from the energy supplier E.on, Sarah Walker,who set out what energy companies are doing to fulfil their legal obligation to help those in fuel poverty and in particular those who cannot afford to pay their bills.
The roundtable discussion was part of a “Keeping Warm In Winter” campaign being organised by Mr Henderson. The campaign aims to help those people in his constituency facing fuel poverty by highlighting the help that is available to them, particularly the help available to better insulate homes and reduce the cost of heating them.
Mr Henderson explained: “I am very concerned about what will happen to vulnerable people in Sittingbourne and Sheppey should we have another bitterly cold winter this year.
“With the ever increasing costs of energy, there will be many people who are frightened to turn up their heating in January for fear of not being able to afford to pay the bills when they are issued in March.
“There is help available to vulnerable people, but the problem is that they often don’t know how to access that help. For instance, people can get help to better insulate their homes, often without an upfront charge. In addition a number of the energy companies offer grants to vulnerable people who find themselves in debt and unable to pay their bills.
“Another problem is that some people simply do not understand the bills they receive and have no idea whether they are paying the lowest possible tariff. With that in mind I will be holding special advice surgeries in January to which people can bring their energy bills.
“There will be a number of agencies available to look at the bills and give free advice about how to reduce them.
“In addition I will be setting up a page on my website dedicated to fuel poverty and pointing constituents towards the help that is available, including the Home Heat Helpline.”