MP WARNS of Warm Front ‘chaos’

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Warm Front – the Government scheme that provides free or subsidised insulation for the homes of those on lower incomes – faces chaos, according to a local Labour MP.

In 2012-13, sixty people in Denton and Reddish were awarded grants under the scheme, but nationally, only a quarter of all grants were paid out.

Andrew Gwynne MP will be backing Labour’s House of Commons motion today that calls on the Government to take three practical steps to provide real help now to help families and pensioners make their homes more energy efficient by:

• Ensuring the Green Deal is offered on fair terms and at affordable interests to the public, without punitive upfront assessment fees or early repayment fines

• Taking appropriate action against energy companies that have not met their obligations under the Community Energy Saving Programme or the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target

• Extending the deadline for Warm Front until the full budget for 2012-13 has been committed to expenditure

When Labour left office there were 1.75 million fewer households living in fuel poverty – including half a million fewer vulnerable households. This happened because of Labour policies like the Winter Fuel Payment and the Cold Weather Payment, as well improvements in energy efficiency through Warm Front and tough requirements on the energy companies. But there are now warnings that as a result of this Government’s policies, more people are at threat of fuel poverty.

The proportion of homes in fuel poverty in England and Wales has seen a dramatic increase in two years – up from under one in five households (18%) to one in four (25%). 9,205 households have applied for help from Warm Front but are still waiting for a survey to be conducted to see if they are eligible.

This month, the ten borough councils that make up Greater Manchester – including Stockport and Tameside – have launched a new energy bulk-buying scheme to help those who are being left behind by the Government. People living anywhere in the UK can now sign up to the ‘Fair Energy’ scheme, in which bill payers club together to get the best price for their electricity and gas.

Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“Energy bills are soaring, driving up inflation and contributing to the cost of living crisis affecting millions of families, but thousands of people have been turned down for help, with thousands more left waiting to know whether or not they will receive assistance.

“When Warm Front ends this year, this Tory-led Government will be the first administration since the 1970s not to have a Government funded energy efficiency scheme. At a time when families are facing record fuel bills and energy companies are enjoying huge profits, the Government needs to step in and support families.”

Referring to the Greater Manchester scheme, he added:

“Although energy switching is still relatively new in the UK, but in many parts of Europe it is now common practice. Using the bulk buying power of our ten local councils and thousands of people makes a lot of sense and will certainly drive down domestic energy costs for people involved in the scheme.”

To register for the scheme, visit www.gmfairenergy.com or call 0800 009 3363.  You do not have to be a resident of Greater Manchester to apply.

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