AN MP has warned Bradford people are paying for fuel poverty with their lives after it was found one in eight households in the district cannot afford to have a warm home.
Speaking in a House of Commons debate on energy prices recently, Bradford South MP Judith Cummins called for the Government to act to put an end to this.
She said: “Living in a cold home leads to premature death during the winter months. The rate of premature death in Bradford - for the period 2010 to 2013 – was over 22 per cent; five per cent higher than for the Yorkshire and Humber region and for England as a whole.
“People are literally paying for fuel poverty with their lives and this situation must not go on.
“This Government must take action to tackle fuel poverty. The double whammy of soaring energy costs and cuts to energy efficiency schemes is pushing hard-pressed families in Bradford close to the edge.
“For many families, the desperate choice is between a warm home or food on the table. This is unacceptable in this day and age.
“I recognise that the Government is taking steps to tackle fuel poverty in the private rented sector. Regrettably the measures announced by this Government lack ambition.
“What is also clear is that the energy sector is no longer operating in the interests of our constituents. All the ‘Big Six’ energy companies, except British Gas to their credit, have recently announced price hikes.”
In Ms Cummins’ Bradford South constituency, 4,982 of households (12.1 per cent) are said to be living in fuel poverty according to the Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency group, a coalition of cross-party MPs and industry stakeholders.
Other Bradford districts are: Bradford West - 6,138 households (16.4 per cent); and Bradford East - 6,429 households (15.8 per cent).
MP Naz Shah, whose constituency covers Bradford West said: “This government’s austerity measures and major cutbacks have meant that constituents across Bradford are suffering.’
“Families, children and the elderly are all severely affected.
“People are having to make the impossible decision between putting food on the table or heat their homes - and this is completely unacceptable.
“The statistics on premature death are troubling and the fact that the rate of premature death in Bradford is five per cent higher than for the Yorkshire and Humber region is fuel poverty’s most concerning feature.’
Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East which has the second highest rate for fuel poverty, added: “The scale of fuel poverty in Bradford is an issue that I find extremely worrying.
“However it is no real surprise to me that people are being forced to make a choice between eating and heating when the Government is continuing its aggressive campaign of austerity with cuts to services and support for working people, an increase in welfare sanctions, and an explosion in the use of zero-hours contracts.”
Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley added:: “I absolutely agree with Judith. That is why I have always opposed adding extra on to energy bills to pay for expensive renewable energy subsidies, and why I have always argued for the cheapest energy rather than the greenest energy.”
Bradford Council’s Fuel Poverty Framework currently states: “Fuel poverty is a significant issue in the Bradford District. The latest figures available show that 14.1 per cent of all households in the district were considered to be in fuel poverty, higher than the Yorkshire and Humber regional average of 10.6 per cent and the national average of 10.4 per cent.”
New fuel poverty figures for Bradford are anticipated from the Department of Energy and Industries Strategy in the second quarter of 2017.
The Framework data also states the Council and its partners have installed some 50,000 measures from loft insulation to new boilers in homes of all types over recent years.
Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive member for environment, sport and culture, said: “Fuel poverty is an acute problem in Bradford but the Council has limited powers to try and improve the situation in a commercial energy market.
“Recently Bradford Council has also agreed to sign up to the not-for-profit White Rose Energy Scheme with Leeds City Council which offers people an alternative energy supplier.
“This is an opportunity to help households in the Bradford district that need it the most.”
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