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Agenda item

Councillor Robertson: Fuel Poverty

There is a serious threat of fuel poverty to many residents of Cambridge

 

In the last few months international energy costs have risen dramatically. In response the government have announced a scheme to increase the cap on energy bills, and provide some compensation through council tax rebates and pay back loans. However it is apparent there are serious flaws in this scheme.

 

New analysis from Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds that, even after the new deferral scheme for energy bills and council tax discount are taken into account, once the new energy price cap kicks in:

·  Families on low incomes will spend on average 16% of their incomes after housing costs on energy bills. This compares to 5% for middle-income families

·  Single adult households on low incomes will spend a shocking 43% on average of their income after housing costs on energy bills

·  Lone parent families on low incomes will spend 22% on average of their income after housing costs on energy bills

·  Some families on low incomes will face annual bills as high as £2,326 from April

·  For low-income families with children, the measures will mitigate just 36% of the increase in their bills on average. This compares to 59% for low-income single-adult households.

·  Around three-quarters of people eligible for the council tax discount announced are not in poverty

 

Cambridge City Council calls on the Government to act now and far more effectively on the national crisis in energy prices and unsustainable supply, to protect thousands of low and middle income Cambridge residents who will get nothing from the council tax rebate plan or payback loan. We call on the government to take the following actions:

1.  Increase substantially the Warm Homes Discount for poorer households, and expand the category of households eligible to include all in receipt of either Pension Credit or working age benefits

2.  Allow households heated through communal heating schemes to be eligible for the energy cap as they are currently treated as commercial customers and excluded

3.  Levy windfall taxes on fossil fuel producing companies

4.  Remove from energy bills the burden of paying the debts of failed energy companies since OFGEM failed to require them to protect themselves against wholesale cost increases

5.  Remove environmental levies from energy bills and pay for them from general taxation.

6.  Cut VAT on energy bills and insulation at least until energy bills return to more usual levels

7.  Set up a National Renewable Energy Fund for long term investment in energy efficiency by homeowners, council and other social landlords, private rental tenants and small to medium sized businesses

 

We ask our Council leader to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, copied to our two MPs, making the case for intervention and pointing out that the proposed scheme to reimburse people via the council tax system, fails to help thousands of families in need or lead to long term investment to cut future bills and end the use of fossil fuels for domestic heating and power in Britain.

 

Minutes:

Resolved (unanimously) that:

 

There is a serious threat of fuel poverty to many residents of Cambridge

 

In the last few months international energy costs have risen dramatically. In response the government have announced a scheme to increase the cap on energy bills, and provide some compensation through council tax rebates and pay back loans. However it is apparent there are serious flaws in this scheme.

 

New analysis from Joseph Rowntree Foundation finds that, even after the new deferral scheme for energy bills and council tax discount are taken into account, once the new energy price cap kicks in:

·  Families on low incomes will spend on average 16% of their incomes after housing costs on energy bills. This compares to 5% for middle-income families

·  Single adult households on low incomes will spend a shocking 43% on average of their income after housing costs on energy bills

·  Lone parent families on low incomes will spend 22% on average of their income after housing costs on energy bills

·  Some families on low incomes will face annual bills as high as £2,326 from April

·  For low-income families with children, the measures will mitigate just 36% of the increase in their bills on average. This compares to 59% for low-income single-adult households.

·  Around three-quarters of people eligible for the council tax discount announced are not in poverty

 

Cambridge City Council calls on the Government to act now and far more effectively on the national crisis in energy prices and unsustainable supply, to protect thousands of low and middle income Cambridge residents who will get nothing from the council tax rebate plan or payback loan. We call on the government to take the following actions:

1.  Increase substantially the Warm Homes Discount for poorer households, and expand the category of households eligible to include all in receipt of either Pension Credit or working age benefits

2.  Allow households heated through communal heating schemes to be eligible for the energy cap as they are currently treated as commercial customers and excluded

3.  Levy windfall taxes on fossil fuel producing companies

4.  Remove from energy bills the burden of paying the debts of failed energy companies since OFGEM failed to require them to protect themselves against wholesale cost increases

5.  Remove environmental levies from energy bills and pay for them from general taxation.

6.  Cut VAT on energy bills and insulation at least until energy bills return to more usual levels

7.  Set up a National Renewable Energy Fund for long term investment in energy efficiency by homeowners, council and other social landlords, private rental tenants and small to medium sized businesses

 

We ask our Council leader to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, copied to our two MPs, making the case for intervention and pointing out that the proposed scheme to reimburse people via the council tax system, fails to help thousands of families in need or lead to long term investment to cut future bills and end the use of fossil fuels for domestic heating and power in Britain.