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Aylesbury Vale battles fuel poverty

Gas hob

Published by Mix96 News at 5:47am 11th July 2018.

According to a Government report, nearly 6,000 homes in Aylesbury Vale are in fuel poverty.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says 8% of these homes will be pushed into poverty as a result of the rising cost of heating and lighting. 

Across the South East, around 340,000 households are also battling with the issue of fuel poverty, with each household £447 short of their required energy bills each year - a measure called the 'fuel poverty gap'.

The fuel poverty gap in the South East is the highest in the country, which is a worrying title considering that fuel poverty accounts for over 1,000 excess winter deaths in England each year.

The fuel poverty charity National Energy Action has published a study highlighting the consequences to those affected by the issue and admits "the Government's existing set of policies aren't sufficient in scale to address the problem". 

Peter Smith, co-author of the study and Director of Policy and Research at NEA, said:

"We know that living in fuel poverty causes winter hardship and premature mortality.

"It's been shown by not only our charity but also the Committee on Fuel Poverty that the government's existing set of policies aren't sufficient in scale to address the problem."

Some of the most vulnerable members of society to the issue are single parent households- with over a quarter being 'fuel poor'. Additionally, households in private rented accommodation are twice as likely to be in fuel poverty than the national average, and have an average fuel poverty gap of £383 - nearly twice as large as households in social housing.  

In 2018, the government believes that the proportion of households in fuel poverty will decrease slightly, but that rising energy prices will push the national average fuel poverty gap up by nearly 10%, from £326 to £357. 

A BEIS spokesperson said:

"We don't want anyone to live in fuel poverty.

"We are introducing a temporary price cap to stop rip-off price rises and unjustified energy prices for households on standard variable and default tariffs.

"We're also tackling the root causes by investing £6bn in improving energy efficiency in some of the UK's poorest homes over the next 10 years."

Mr Smith says that the Government definition of fuel poverty fails to take into account families already below the poverty line, for whom even 'low fuel costs' are unaffordable.

He says that NEA also wants to see fuel bill discounts and energy price caps, available to those on benefits, offered to working families with low earnings. 

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