Government must support those at risk of fuel poverty this winter

In the wake of the global gas crisis, the National Insurance rise and Universal Credit cuts, many Britons are at risk of fuel poverty this winter. The Green Party has urged the Government to introduce urgent measures to support those at risk.

Winter smog

© stu mayhew (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Green World

The Green Party has urged the Government to introduce emergency grants to homeowners, landlords and councils to fund immediate insulation improvements to those at risk of fuel poverty this winter.

This comes in the wake of soaring energy prices, which, combined with the National Insurance rise and Universal Credit cuts, has seen Downing Street met with warnings of a ‘very, very difficult’ winter for hundreds of thousands of Britons. Conservative ministers have expressed their discontent with No 10’s decisions, calling on the Cabinet to either scrap or reduce the 5 per cent VAT on energy bills.

A worldwide squeeze on gas and energy supplies has seen gas prices rise across Europe and Asia, with a 250 per cent price increase being recorded since January. In October, UK energy bills are due to rise by an average of £139, with the price cap – which covers 15 million households across England, Scotland and Wales – protecting customers from further increases during this period. However, the spike in gas prices risks even further increases at the next review point in spring.

Zoe Nicholson, Green Party Green New Deal spokesperson, commented:

“Soaring gas prices threaten to increase further the appalling levels of fuel poverty this winter. The Conservative government must shoulder the blame for this crisis. 

“Recently, the Green Homes grant, which offered households the opportunity to insulate their homes and power them with renewable energy, was axed. That’s why Greens are calling for emergency grants to be made available immediately so households facing the prospect of cold and damp homes this winter can pay for simple insulation measures.

“Of course, this short term fix is only needed because of years of government inaction on fuel poverty. Ultimately, we need to see the implementation of a large-scale nationwide insulation programme. This is a key part of the Green New Deal, which will ensure homes are warm and comfortable, reduce carbon emissions and create thousands of green jobs.” 

Greens have also repeated calls for energy to be taken back into public ownership. 

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party Finance and Economy spokesperson, added:

“With unsustainable deals to attract customers, and higher prices charged for those with less ability to pay, it’s clear that the market is failing in the energy sector. In a climate emergency, it’s absurd to give responsibility for reducing demand to those who profit from selling the product. A resilient, fair and sustainable energy supply system can only be effective if politicians have the power to act which is why the Green Party is clear that our energy generation and supply systems should be brought back into public ownership."