Thousands of families in Fleetwood are living in fuel poverty as they struggle to heat their homes, new research has claimed today.
New Government figures reveal the Lancaster and Fleetwood constituency has 6,039 homes classed in this struggling bracket, where homeowners spend more than 10 per cent of their total income on heating.
Cat Smith, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the area, is now calling for more to be done to tackle cold, draughty homes, with high energy prices increasingly taking their toll on cash-strapped families.
She said: “It is shocking to think that in 21st century Britain so many people in Fleetwood cannot afford to heat their own homes.
“This can have serious consequences, especially for vulnerable people like the elderly and young children.”
Ms Smith added: “Now is the time the Coalition should be planning ahead for next winter and trying to ensure nobody has to suffer in this way.”
Ms Smith is calling on the Coalition to reverse its cuts to insulation schemes, and has joined more than 180 charities, campaign groups, unions and companies making up the Energy Bill Revolution coalition to upgrade the energy efficiency of homes.
She added: “Labour has pledged to freeze energy bills if it wins the general election next year, but the Coalition has the power to do this now, as well as to reverse its damaging cuts to insulation schemes.
“Fuel poverty is just one element of the cost of living crisis which has resulted in the average family being £1,600 worse off under this Government.”
UK homes are among the hardest to heat in Europe, with too little insulation and leaky windows and doors.
According to Ms Smith countries like Sweden have very little fuel poverty,
despite much colder weather and similar energy prices to the UK because their homes more energy
She added: “Previous work by the Energy Bill Revolution has shown that improving homes like this would create more jobs, be better for the economy, and be more popular with the public than any other major building project.”
Coun Terry Rogers (pictured right), chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, says reversing the cuts to insulation schemes is something which needs to be done.
He added: “It’s something I would subscribe to and Ed Miliband has already said he would freeze prices from
“There’s a problem with this in Fleetwood, and it comes from people still being on pre-paid metres, which are historically a higher price than normal credit metres, and that has to be looked at.
“It has to be cut back and there needs to be help.
“Private landlords need to be given help with insulating properties, because this is
already being done by council-owned homes.”
But Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Council, said: “We are helping people in Fleetwood.
“We are creating jobs and have cut council tax for four years. These are the practical things we need to do.
“Gestures from Parliamentary candidates don’t mean anything.”
He said if ‘fracking’ came to the Fylde coast that would help reduce energy prices, adding: “I’m sure there’s a lot of Labour members that are against shale gas, and that will only cause bigger (poverty)problems in the future.”
“As long as it’s safe it will help them with energy prices.”