Rasen councillor’s fears for families pushed into fuel poverty

Local families could be put under more economic pressure with energy prices set to rise.

Coun Stephen Bunney EMN-211008-121646001

That is the view of town, district and county councillor Stephen Bunney.

As a volunteer during the covid pandemic, Coun Bunney was aware of several families who required financial support to pay for utility charges, as well as receiving food parcels.

Now, he says, the second rise in the fuel cap energy price this year will definitely: “add to the economic hardship of many households in the Market Rasen area”.

He continued: “Combined with the April increase, it is estimated that the recently announced fuel cap rise will increase the cost of energy for those using pre-paid meters by an average of energy £249 per year or £235 for those paying by Direct Debit.

“For many it will be even higher if the winter months are cold as has been the case in recent years.”

Coun Bunney added: “This increase in fuel price has come at a very difficult time for households as both the furlough scheme and, more crucially, the £20 per week coronavirus uplift in Universal Credit are due to come to an end.

“These three factors will inevitably drag more families into fuel poverty – where families are forced to choose between providing food and clothing or paying to keep warm.

“This is a situation that should not exist in the world’s sixth wealthiest economy.”

During the extreme cold snap last winter, Coun Bunney says families were reporting they had to put an extra £10 per day into the meters just to stay warm – money they had not budgeted for and did not have – placing them in unavoidable debt, as well as reducing the amount of food they could purchase.

He added: “For every household receiving support, I am sure that there were others – for what ever reason – who did not ask for or receive the extra support.”

Now Coun Bunney is calling on the town’s MP, Sir Edward Leigh, and his fellow councillors to lobby the Government to eradicate this ‘fluke poverty’ by insisting energy companies introduce an affordable social tariff for the economic vulnerable in our society.

Coun Bunney continued: “This needs to be backed up by making the ‘lifeline’ uplift in Universal Credit a permanent change rather than removing it next month.

“I also call for legislation to be introduced to ensure that landlords insulate their properties to a high standard that will reduce energy consumption.

“This legislation needs to be backed up by a packet of financial measures – grants, cheap loans, tax breaks – so improvements are not paid for by unaffordable hikes in property rents.”