The fact that families are still having to choose between vital necessities such as food or heating their homes is an appalling reality. Fuel poverty describes the epidemic in which people are having to pay more than 10% of their annual income on heating their homes. That amount of money is utterly ridiculous and it unfortunately leaves families with even less income to support themselves in many of the other necessary aspects of their lives. Those who fall victim to fuel poverty are much more prone to issues such as avoidable illnesses and even winter deaths.
In the UK there are still over 4 million households which are living in fuel poverty. Currently in Burnley 5,147 households, accounting for 13.5% of the total population, fall under this category. On average residents in the North West spend £352 more than other areas of the country.
We cannot continue to let families live with this unnecessary burden, who have to choose between heating and eating. That is why on the 17th of February I will be joining with other Labour colleagues to support Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, which seeks to help raise awareness to the fuel poverty crisis in this country. Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is supported by the National Education Association who offer advice for those families affected on how best to heat their homes in the winter whilst conserving energy.
Without the necessary interventions needed to deal with the cold home crisis, the NEA estimates that within 15 years the overall effect will be 125,000 premature deaths and £22 billion will be spent by the NHS in treating these entirely preventable and life-threatening cold-related conditions. These are horrific prospects that I refuse to let happen on my watch. There are simple measures that can be taken to make a major difference in our community.
I urge anyone affected by fuel poverty to copy the following link which will take them to a video by the National Education Association which will offer tips on how to stay warm at home this winter: http://www.nea.org.uk/advice/the-heat-is-on/