Bradford Telegraph and ArgusKeighley's fuel poverty 'scandal' (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

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Keighley's fuel poverty 'scandal'

DESPERATE families are living in homes without gas or electricity because they can't afford the bills, it has been revealed.

The shocking extent of so-called 'fuel poverty' in Keighley has been highlighted by the Salvation Army, which has seen demand for its services spiral.

Major Alison Gardner, of the Keighley corps, accuses the energy companies of "daylight robbery".

She said some householders in the town had no power supplies at all.

And many who do only use hobs or microwaves to cook because it's too expensive to run a conventional oven.

"When giving out food parcels we always ask people if they have fuel," she said. "If they cannot afford to buy food, chances are they can't afford fuel either.

"A lot of people do not have any cooking facility, and to light their homes rely on candles or even lighters.

"About 98 per cent of those who do have power supplies don't have the money to use an ordinary oven and we tailor the foodstuffs accordingly.

"Fuel poverty is a massive issue and a scandal."

Major Gardner said most people on low incomes had to use tokens to pay for their fuel, and were being "penalised" by suppliers.

"Tokens are a more expensive way of paying yet most people on benefits can't afford to set-up direct debits and qualify for cheaper tariffs," she said.

"It's daylight robbery."

Between 80 and 90 food parcels a week are being distributed on a drop-in basis at the Salvation Army centre, in High Street, Keighley.

And since changes to welfare benefits came into force last year, the charity has seen referrals virtually triple to about 40 each week.

"These are people who have had their benefits stopped or delayed or have been sanctioned," said Major Gardner.

Figures show that nationally there has been a slight fall in fuel poverty.

But the number is expected to rise again to 2.33 million households this year, largely due to increases in energy costs, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The latest figures come as the 'big six' energy companies have been urged to explain to customers what impact falling wholesale energy prices will have on bills

Sophie Neuburg, Friends of the Earth fuel poverty campaigner, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that millions of people across Britain are still struggling to pay their bills."

Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said tackling fuel poverty was a priority for him and the government.

“Fuel poverty is something that no one should have to endure," he added.

"Following an independent review, a new definition of fuel poverty has been set out to ensure support is focused on those who need it most.

"Green levies are being reduced in consumers’ energy bills, which will save an average of £50 per household, and the government’s warm home discount scheme helps around two million low income and vulnerable households with their energy costs each year."

Energy UK, which provides a voice for the industry, says companies offer a range of payment options for customers and only charge more for particular methods when they are expensive to implement.

A spokesman added: "We hope smart meters will reduce the cost of pre-payment plans for customers and companies alike, but if anyone is worried they should talk to their supplier which can usually sort out a payment plan when people are struggling."

“No one should have to worry about putting the heating or the lights on. If a customer is having difficulty they should contact their supplier immediately or call the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699 for free, impartial advice.”

Comments (5)

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3:22pm Wed 18 Jun 14

justjustice says...

What exactly can the government do to private companies? They are all bark but no bite.

Didnt these same energy companies threaten the government that if they had to reduce prices they will cut off the energy?!
Basically blackmailing the government, "reduce our prices and we'll cur you off!"

This is what privatization has done to our ESSENTIAL utilities and services! Demand changes and they will simply cut you off.

Reduce train drivers' wages = no trains
Want BT to check your phone line because there is obviously a fault = £125
You need to get to work = 10p added per litre to fuel, supply and demand right.


None of these essential service should ever have been privatised, they are essential for a reason. These companies are out to make money for themselves, and they are quiet happy to take the country's economy down as long as it still fills their wallets, whilst the rest of us, basically die from cold and hunger.
What exactly can the government do to private companies? They are all bark but no bite. Didnt these same energy companies threaten the government that if they had to reduce prices they will cut off the energy?! Basically blackmailing the government, "reduce our prices and we'll cur you off!" This is what privatization has done to our ESSENTIAL utilities and services! Demand changes and they will simply cut you off. Reduce train drivers' wages = no trains Want BT to check your phone line because there is obviously a fault = £125 You need to get to work = 10p added per litre to fuel, supply and demand right. None of these essential service should ever have been privatised, they are essential for a reason. These companies are out to make money for themselves, and they are quiet happy to take the country's economy down as long as it still fills their wallets, whilst the rest of us, basically die from cold and hunger. justjustice
  • Score: 1

3:57pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Apollo says...

Bet they smoke and have Sky though.
Bet they smoke and have Sky though. Apollo
  • Score: 0

2:10pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Class_War says...

It's not just people in Keighley but all over. What did they expect? Benefit sanctions, fuel prices, bedroom tax, council tax.....the Tory 'recovery' is a lie.
It's not just people in Keighley but all over. What did they expect? Benefit sanctions, fuel prices, bedroom tax, council tax.....the Tory 'recovery' is a lie. Class_War
  • Score: 0

2:13pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Class_War says...

@ Appollo

How can they have Sky if they have no electric? Idiot!
@ Appollo How can they have Sky if they have no electric? Idiot! Class_War
  • Score: 0

3:55pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Apollo says...

Class_War wrote:
@ Appollo How can they have Sky if they have no electric? Idiot!
Leaving aside the spelling the report does not say the people are without electricity. It states that it is expensive and people are making choices.

My bet is that Sky will be the 2nd last thing to go after cigs.
[quote][p][bold]Class_War[/bold] wrote: @ Appollo How can they have Sky if they have no electric? Idiot![/p][/quote]Leaving aside the spelling the report does not say the people are without electricity. It states that it is expensive and people are making choices. My bet is that Sky will be the 2nd last thing to go after cigs. Apollo
  • Score: 0

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