Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (8th December) revealed that 45,000 people in South Teesside were now seen as having been officially suffering from ‘fuel poverty’ on the government’s own figures – figures he described as ‘shameful’.
The figures came in reply to a question Tom put to Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, and in which a Government minister admitted that in 2009 – the last year in which figures were available – over 45,000 people in Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland were living in a situation where they were suffering from fuel poverty.
Tom said “In the UK, fuel poverty is officially defined as living in a situation where, to heat a home to an adequate standard of warmth, a household has to spend more than 10% of its income on gas or electricity.”
“These figures are old ones, but they are still shocking. It is clear that at this time, the actual figure must be now much greater, and it is an indictment of government that they are still running on old figures.”
“Poorer people on Teesside have now been hit by a ‘perfect storm’ which makes fuel poverty more likely – low pay, more unemployment, cuts in welfare benefit and soaring energy costs passed on by the big energy utilities.”
“Put simply, this means that thousands of Teesside families are now having too choose between Christmas shopping or putting cash by to meet gas and electricity bills'”
“This shocking situation – revealed in a week when the first snows of winter have fallen – has been made worse by the coalition government’s decision to peg back the winter fuel supplement brought in by Labour, by £50. We are living at a time when the fat cats can enjoy the coming holidays whilst the poor shiver.”