The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to extend a scheme that saves £140 on energy bills to households struggling due to the coronavirus, helping an estimated 23,015 across Bristol.
In a warning from the Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse, the MP for Bath said these measures were needed before families are forced "to choose between heating their home or eating"
The party’s plans would see all households that fall into the government definition of fuel poverty access the Warm Homes Discount. The move would see some 2.5 million households across the UK - many of whom are not currently eligible for the scheme - benefit from £140 credit on their energy bills.
In a letter to the Government backed by a cross-party group of 28 MPs, Ministers have also been encouraged to bring forward plans to improve the energy efficiency of homes across the country, in order to reduce fuel poverty in the long term. This comes on top of Liberal Democrat proposals to scrap VAT on energy bills during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The Bristol West area has the highest number of homes in fuel poverty in Bristol, with 7,625 homes (13.2%) experiencing fuel poverty compared with 5,743 (11.5%) in Bristol South, 4,842 (10.9%) in Bristol East and 4,805 (10.7%) in Bristol North West.
Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:
“No-one should ever have to choose between heating their home or eating, let alone in the face of the current health crisis. It is essential that the Government takes action to ensure no one is forced to do so.
“I am therefore delighted so many cross-party colleagues across the House of Commons have joined me in writing to the Business Secretary to back this proposal.”
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Bristol West James Cox said:
“The Government already offers a Warm Home Discount on fuel to the poorest pensioners. Extending this to all those who meet the current definition for fuel poverty – an estimated 23,015 across Bristol - would make an enormous difference to thousands, including many families with children.
“We are also calling for a more focused effort to end fuel poverty permanently, such as more insulation. This would be a win for both society and the environment: with better insulation, less energy is needed, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.”