Jennette Arnold, London Assembly Member for North East London, writes on Fuel poverty

Londoners shouldn’t be left out in the cold

As many of you will know I have been campaigning on fuel poverty for many years. Each winter elders across London are faced with ever higher fuel bills and are often faced with the appalling choice of heating or eating. On Fuel Poverty Awareness Day last week I called on energy companies to stop neglecting Londoners. Research by the Energy Saving Trust shows energy companies have only insulated half the number of London homes as elsewhere in the UK. In Hackney the number of homes insulated in the last year is as low as 5.9 per cent, in Islington it is 10.7% and Waltham Forest it is 8.7%. 

Energy companies have treated 7.2 per cent of homes in the capital in order to fulfil their obligations under the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT). Fuel poverty is a widespread issue with over 560,000 London households estimated to be fuel poor.

The figures are bad news for Boris Johnson, who has himself failed to meet his own target to retrofit 200,000 homes by 2012, delivering only 67,000. From April the Mayor will no longer be directly funding home retrofit measures and will instead rely on energy companies to deliver such measures.

As a result of the gap between the end of the existing retrofitting schemes and the new schemes becoming fully functional, the Insulation Industry Forum predicted that 625 jobs will be lost in London during 2013.

The energy companies’ record in London is pitifully poor, with only half the number of homes benefitting from being insulated as elsewhere in the UK. With the ending of the Mayor’s home insulation programme in London and the energy companies’ complete lack of interest in helping Londoners save money and keep warm.

I encourage all residents who are struggling to heat their homes to ensure they are getting all the help they are entitled to. It should not be a choice between food or fuel.

The number of people living in fuel poverty is rising in London. With fuel prices continuing to rise every winter and when London's higher housing costs are considered, more and more people will fall into fuel poverty each year. It is essential that energy companies do all they can to help Londoners reduce their fuel consumption and live in more energy efficient homes. Energy companies are not taking this responsibility seriously and Londoners are being left out in the cold.

If you are interesting in finding out more about this issue you can read the London Assembly Health and Public Services Committee report here:

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