At Tuesday's public meeting of the Full Council, Executive member for Housing Cllr Penny Shelton spoke of Liberal Democrat plans for a 'progressive' strategy to tackle fuel poverty in Kingston, based on data expected from a borough-wide survey.
The Executive member was asked by Cllr Rolson Davies to clarify the efforts that Kingston Council is making to assess and meet the fuel poverty needs of elderly and vulnerable people in the borough.
Cllr Shelton explained that “the Council is already actively engaged in schemes designed to assist vulnerable households, including the elderly.”
She spoke of more than two million pounds spent in 2007/08 on the 'Coldbuster Scheme' and on energy efficiency measures for Kingston's own housing stock.
In addition, Creative Environmental Network (CEN), a Partner of the Council, has been providing home visits to Kingston's most vulnerable residents, face to face assessments of need, referrals to a grant scheme and other complimentary services such as benefit entitlement checks.
She added: “We are the expecting results in early February from a survey carried out by CEN to identify fuel poverty in the borough. With this data we will have better understanding of who suffered from fuel poverty in this exceptionally cold winter, and how best to help them. We look forward to progressively developing a strategy of practical actions to target fuel poverty in Kingston.”
In response to a supplementary question, Cllr Shelton welcomed a private members bill being brought to Parliament by Liberal Democrat MP David Heath - aimed at helping the thousands of people in the UK who are struggling with the cost of energy in the current economic crisis.
She said: “David Health's Fuel Poverty (Eradication) Bill proposes two measures: that of a major energy efficiency programme to bring existing homes up to the current efficiency savings enjoyed by modern homes, as well as employing social tariffs to limit vulnerable households' exposure to high-energy bills. The bill's measures merit the support of all parties.”
She added: “While publicly supporting David Health's Fuel Poverty Bill, and continuing to place pressure on the government to empower Councils to do more to protect vulnerable residents, this administration will not be complacent in using existing powers and the data provided by CEN to tackle fuel poverty in the borough.”