Households in fuel poverty have been defined as those which spend more than 10% of the household income on fuel for heating, lighting, cooking, etc. The particularly cold winters of 2010 and 2011 combined with record high gas and electricity prices have pushed a greater number of households in to fuel poverty. Increased unemployment and pay freezes have also caused an increase in the number of households affected. Local authorities can not decree the weather, nor can they influence energy prices but they can provide favourable conditions for employment to help move people out of fuel poverty, although this doesn't really get to the heart of the matter.
The vast majority of homes affected by fuel poverty are older, poorly insulated homes and this is where the council can have a much greater impact. Insulating these properties would lift people from fuel poverty and reduce the carbon footprint of the city now and in the future. Insulating older homes is one of the most cost effective ways of reducing energy use and hence carbon emissions.
Some of the worst houses are former council houses that were sold to their tenants at knock down prices for ideological reasons. Many of the owner/occupiers are elderly and struggle to pay their utility bills, therefore can not afford to invest in double glazing, loft insulation, wall insulation or efficient central heating systems. Their neighbours that were not persuaded to buy their council houses have had all this supplied by their housing association.
So where do the parties stand on this issue?
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