Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Howarth furious after bid for fuel poverty law fails

March 23, 2009 10:33 AM

David HowarthCambridge MP David Howarth is furious after a bid to introduce a new law to lift thousands of city residents out of fuel poverty was "talked out" by the government on Friday.

The move to introduce a Fuel Poverty Bill, supported by Mr Howarth, ran out of Parliamentary time after a debate lasting more than three and a half hours. Eighty nine MPs voted for the Bill with just two against, but it needed 100 votes to go through.

Mr Howarth said: "I am very angry that this Bill was talked out by the government. They have let down the thousands of people in Cambridge who would have benefited from this Bill which, not only had the power to ease suffering, but also to create green jobs.

"Tens of thousands of people die from the cold each winter because they live in poorly insulated homes and are unable to afford their fuel bills. This Bill had the potential to bring these homes up to modern day standards and, ultimately could have saved lives."

The Bill, which had its second reading in the House of Commons, would also force energy companies to offer their most vulnerable customers the cheapest possible tariffs.

During the debate, Mr Howarth reminded MPs that the government had told the High Court in October that "it is not considered reasonably practicable to take all of the measures that would be required to eradicate fuel poverty, as such measures are not necessarily cost effective and the resources are not available to pay for them".

"Year after year the government has failed to take the necessary action to deliver on its statutory targets to end fuel poverty for vulnerable households," said Mr Howarth after the debate. "This Bill offered the opportunity to lift thousands of people out of fuel poverty; but, once again we have proved that Labour is all talk and little action."

In Cambridge around 20,000 people - 17 per cent of households - live in fuel poverty and 2,610 pensioners - 17.5 per cent - are claiming pension credit. Between 2005 and 2006 there were 50 excess winter deaths.