As we all begin to prepare for winter I wanted to take the chance to highlight the importance of community spirit, now more than ever.
Almost five million pensioners said they rationed their heating during last year’s cold spell because they just couldn’t afford higher bills; sadly in 2017 our pensioners are part of a generation who fear getting into debt simply to warm their home.
Across the country we’re seeing the dangerous combination of having some of the coldest winters on the continent, coupled with high energy bills and the absence of a comprehensive energy efficiency scheme to support older people when insulating their homes. On top of that UK homes are some of the most expensive to heat in Europe because of their poor insulation and maintenance.
We’re incredibly lucky in Tameside to have strong established community links with organisations that do amazing and often times lifesaving work in order to help pensioners and vulnerable groups to get through tough winters.
St Mary’s in Haughton Green, and St. John’s in Dukinfield are just two amazing examples of what a community can achieve when it works together. Through the dedication of ordinary members of the public both churches make a massive impact in reducing local levels of pensioner poverty through their respective food banks.
Yet for all the good work that occurs around every community in every part of the UK, we cannot escape the fact that we are one of the richest nations on earth, the fifth to be precise, and it is just not good enough when vulnerable families and our pensioners have to make a stark choice – whether to live in a freezing home, or go hungry.
There is growing frustration over the continued failings of energy companies to reduce prices despite years of falling energy costs with wholesale prices falling by over half in the same period as average household bills fell by only 12 per cent.
In terms of benefits, the rollout of universal credit has been nothing short of a unmitigated disaster with growing numbers of Tory MP’s calling on the Government to ditch the policy all together with claimants left in a state of limbo for weeks on end, and driving more and more families to debt to survive.
We can no longer rely on this Government to represent the many who want the energy giants to put people before profit, or to have a benefits system which is fair for all. The next Labour Government will put an end to rip-off energy prices, and transform Britain by genuinely putting power in the hands of the people.