Blackburn charity campaigner challenges the government on fuel poverty
2:00pm Saturday 2nd March 2013 in News
A CHARITY campaigner has challenged the government to do more to help prevent people entering fuel poverty.
Ian Wolley, director of Blackburn and Darwen Age UK, said the coalition government ‘simply had to do more’ to put pressure on energy suppliers to help reduce bills.
His comments come in the wake of British Gas posting profits of £606million, a 11 per cent rise from last year, and raising prices by an average of £100.
Mr Woolley said: “The companies are claiming that they are taking a very long view to secure our future gas supplies, but really it is costing people a lot of money.
“I think the government has to do more to put pressure on the gas companies to lower prices, especially when we hear of their profits rising.
“At Age UK, we are very concerned that the number of people that are struggling to keep themselves out of fuel poverty.”
A household is considered to be in fuel poverty if more than 10 per cent of its income is spent on home heating.
Mr Woolley said that he would be the first to say do more to the government on this issue.
He said: “This is such a serious matter and I really hope something can be done.”
British Gas’ results also come amid mounting questions over the fairness of energy prices after the company increased tariffs by 6 per cent for around 8.5 million households at the end of last year.
Geraldine Moore, chief officer at Age UK Lancashire, said: “The main concern is the fact that the high prices are having a disproportionate effect on older people.
“It’s deplorable that in 2013, older people have to make the decision between adequately heating their homes or risking their health.”
Centrica, British Gas’ parent company, has already sought to head off consumer backlash by highlighting its importance to the UK economy by publishing a report at the weekend claiming it contributes more than £14 billion through taxes, job creation and contracts with small suppliers.
It also reported that it has seen a 12 per cent rise in gas consumption over recent months.