Rising fuel poverty sparks energy talks

METHODS of addressing increasing levels of fuel poverty are to be discussed by Lincolnshire County Council and energy firm, Centrica.

Fuel poverty, which is defined as a household having to spend more than 10 per cent of its income on fuel, is faced by more than one fifth of the population.

And this figure is estimated to rise due to austerity measures and plans to ‘de-carbonise’ energy production.

Councillors will be discussing the problem with a representative from Centrica at a Lincolnshire County Council Environmental Scrutiny meeting on Friday.

Coun Colin Davie said: “It is our fear that rises in energy costs are pushing more and more residents towards living in fuel poverty and we are hugely concerned about its affect on the economy and on our growing elderly population.

“We will be asking Centrica to explain how it will deliver better quality energy supplies in an affordable manner to the consumer.

“Green energy technology is going to break the bank and it has already reached the point where it is unaffordable for many people.

“I don’t want to hear of any story of an elderly person dying from hypothermia because they are scared of the fuel bill.”

A national report by fuel poverty charity. NEA, raises several suggestions for how local authorities and energy companies can work together to combat fuel poverty.

It highlights the importance of a government scheme called the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) in addressing the problem.

Describing the role of ECO at an energy summit earlier this year, Secretary of Stage, Chris Huhne MP said: “Some people - such as the fuel poor, and those in hard-to-heat homes lacking cavity walls, will need extra help because energy savings alone will not be enough.

“We intend to provide that help by refocusing the obligations on energy companies.

“Local authorities could also join with energy companies to reach those who live in houses that need it the most.”

LCC has recognised the possibility of utilising ECO and other schemes in addressing fuel poverty, but following the demise of various council groups, currently lacks governance for taking it forward.

The council also supports the Home Energy LINCS Partnership (HELP), which has been developed to deliver affordable warmth through a discounted insulation installation scheme.