Six Birmingham constituencies are in the top thirteen most affected by fuel poverty. With the cost-of-living crisis and the energy crisis combining, people’s bills are rising putting even more households into fuel poverty. The West Midlands Climate Coalition, which we are a part of, are organizing public meetings on retrofitting. They are also aiming to contact all MPs from these six constituencies to gain firm commitment from them and find out how they can help to tackle fuel poverty. The Birmingham constituencies that are in the top six include:
- 1st – Hodge Hill – 54.5%
- 2nd – Yardley – 46.7%
- 3rd – Ladywood – 46%
- 4th – Erdington – 45.4%
- 5th – Perry Bar – 45.3%
- 6th – Hall Green – 45.2%
(% of houses in fuel poverty)
Overall, 8.5 million homes in the UK may end up in fuel poverty if bills rise by more than £3,000 a year. Fuel poverty action warns. The price cap rises in April saw 2 million more UK households plunged into fuel poverty now totaling 6.5 million homes. As Birmingham is one of the worst affected cities in the country, with Walsall and Wolverhampton not far off, Birmingham City Council do have schemes to help combat rising fuel bills and financial help for people in need
There is the connected for warmth scheme which will help to install heating in the 8,000 homes that do not have adequate central heating. There is LEAP, The Local Energy Advice Partnership which can provide help and advice with energy switching, free energy saving measures, and money advice. There is also ECHO, The Emergency Central Heating Offer a scheme that offers emergency assistance to fuel poor or vulnerable households to repair or replace broken or condemned boilers.
While Birmingham City Council are trying to help those in need, rising bills aided by the rise in of the energy price cap mean that the council are only papering over already existing cracks and more needs to be done. What needs to happen is government intervention and the lowering of the energy price cap. Other government measures could include an expansion of the Winter Fuel Payment to an additional 2.4 million low-income, working age households across the UK and also, deeper price protection or a new mandatory social tariff to help make energy more affordable for low-income energy customers. Increasing the number of houses that have adequate insulation will also help, however, the government and councils need to work together to implement a retrofitting scheme on a large scale. Investment in renewable energies can also really help to keep energy prices low. A way the government could raise funds in order to help reduce fuel poverty, is a windfall tax.
Big oil and gas companies such as BP and Shell have recently announced record profits. Shell have profited £7 billion pounds and BP £6 billion. A windfall tax on these companies who are benefiting from high energy prices, would contribute to helping people who are affected the most by fuel poverty. These big companies should not be able to profit to the extent that they are, while some people are having to choose between heating and eating.
If you are in support of inspiring change when it comes to fuel poverty, you can help! You can lobby your local councillor or even the government and help change the world for the better.