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Alex pledges to help hard pressed constituents escape the misery of living in fuel poverty this winter

Alex Warm Homes campaign

Local MP Alex Cunningham has pledged to help eradicate fuel poverty from his constituency by ensuring vulnerable households know where to turn for help and support if they are struggling to heat their homes.

Alex is backing National Energy Action’s (NEA) Warm Homes Campaign 2011, which is supported by E.ON, and is stressing that community engagement is vital in combating rising levels of fuel poverty in Stockton on Tees.

The Warm Homes Campaign is a national campaign run by the UKs leading fuel poverty charity National Energy Action to raise awareness of fuel poverty and the issues surrounding living in a cold home.

Alex met with NEA and local organisation Community Campus to deliver a workshop to low income tenants on how to manage energy use in inefficient housing, and the best way to deal with high energy costs.

This year has seen energy prices rise to record levels and the number of fuel poor households in the UK is now over 6.6 million. Over 33% of households in Stockton North are struggling to heat their homes, with many living in poorly insulated, rented accommodation and therefore having to rely on their landlord to make improvements to the property, which landlords are not obliged to do.

Alex said:

“No-one should have to live in poorly insulated housing especially with the wide range of affordable insulation measures available to landlords and home owners. I have pledged my support to work with groups and individuals within my constituency to help them access the support available to insulate homes and reduce energy bills.

“The Warm Homes Campaign highlights that there are still millions of people who are simply struggling to keep their homes warm and protect their families from the ill effects of the cold. Fuel-poor households experience a number of detrimental health impacts and reductions in general wellbeing as a result of cold, damp living conditions. Whilst this is unacceptable, the campaign also demonstrates how help is available. It also underlines how important it is that future government schemes are able to target support for the most vulnerable households effectively.

“The most important message this year is that there is help out there for vulnerable households. I urge everyone to contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 to get help and advice on staying warm in their home this winter without the fear of fuel debt and ill health.”

Nik Milnes of Community Campus said:

“One of the greatest energy challenges for local residents in the area is the poor energy efficiency standard of a lot of private rented accommodation. There are very few obligations on landlords to make a property energy efficient and the lack of insulation can lead to ill health, as people can’t afford to heat their homes, or unaffordable bills as the heat is literally going through the roof.

“Private landlords need more incentives to invest in improving the energy efficiency of their properties, particularly in the older housing stock which is harder to treat. Also, we need to help people make informed decisions about the type of accommodation they rent and force landlords, by not renting poor quality properties, into making their properties as efficient as possible to ensure those living there are able to stay warm and out of energy debt.”

NEA chief executive Jenny Saunders said:

“For 30 years NEA has been building awareness and tackling the causes and symptoms of this national problem. In our experience, the most rational and sustainable solution is locally based schemes that improve heating and insulation, income maximisation and lower tariffs. These are the real tools to tackle the problem within local communities. We are currently working hard with the Government and our supporters to help design and implement policies and programmes that deliver that help at a neighbourhood level”.