Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Energy Bill Revolution Campaign

Ed Matthew, Director of the Energy Bill Revolution
Mervyn Kirk, Director of Isothane, Huncoat

Last week I attended a Parliamentary lobby held by the Energy Bill Revolution Campaign. This is a campaign comprised of 180 organisations calling for more help for people struggling to keep warm this winter. This is a fantastic campaign I am more than happy to give my backing.

As you can see from the photos, campaigners brought me a scarf knitted by supporters of the campaign to highlight the point that some people are forced to take drastic steps to keep warm in their own home. The scarf was one of hundreds knitted by supporters of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign to mark “Cold Homes Week” – a series of events and activities designed to focus attention on the shocking state of many of the UK’s homes, and the terrible effect they have on the people left shivering inside them.

Cold Homes Week also saw the release of new fuel poverty figures showing 7 million people in England are in fuel poverty – that is they cannot keep their homes warm at a reasonable price. This includes 2.2 million children growing up in cold homes. The shocking figure is based on a new Government definition of fuel poverty for England which, when introduced, classified far less people as fuel poor than the previous definition.

The campaigners point to other countries, such as Sweden, where incomes and fuel prices are broadly similar to the UK, but better housing means far fewer people cannot afford to heat their homes. This is an incredibly important issue in places such as Hyndburn, where we still have a huge amount of pre-1919 housing stock, which is particularly at risk during the winter, and is also more expensive to insulate.

One of the organisations supporting the campaign is Isothane, based in Huncoat, which amongst other things work to insulate hard to treat homes such as the many in the constituency. It was great to meet with Mervyn Kirk, Director of the company at the Parliamentary lobby last week – and I am glad they are on board with the campaign.

The Energy Bill Revolution campaign has identified billions of pounds in “carbon taxes” already being paid by bill payers that currently disappears into the Treasury, and has called on Government to recycle this money into help for households to become more efficient. Such a policy would end fuel poverty in 10 years, and could also provide help for better off families to cut their bills. The Energy Bill Revolution Campaign is calling on the Government to take decisive action to tackle the terrible problem of fuel poverty. We believe that the Government should use the revenues from carbon taxes – averaging £4 billion a year for the next 15 years – to invest in a major infrastructure programme to make the UK’s homes highly energy efficient.

Ed Matthew, Director of the Energy Bill Revolution said “We welcome Mr Jones’s support for the Energy Bill Revolution. It is clear that the lasting solution to this crisis is to stop homes leaking heat. This must be UK’s number one infrastructure priority, it will save families hundreds of pounds on their energy bills and end fuel poverty once and for all.”