Tom raises concerns over fuel poverty in rural areas

In a Westminster Hall debate that took place yesterday (16th April 2013) Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, raised the issue of gas connectivity and its impact on fuel costs in rural areas.

Tom said:
“The lack of gas connectivity in the rural parts of East Cleveland has been raised by several of my constituents, especially those living in outlying houses or small ex-farm buildings. The lack of gas connectivity, I believe, has a big role to play in rural poverty as the additional costs of energy and fuel faced by rural households are almost certainly a major factor as the cost of heating oil is approximately twice that of heating a home by gas.

“It is little wonder that on average the cost to a rural household in ensuring an adequate standard of warmth was £346 more than for an urban household and is almost twice as likely to be fuel poor as one with gas central heating.

“With such a clear relationship between gas connectivity and fuel poverty, there are significant benefits in trying to increase connectivity. The Government should be working to ensure that alternative fuels are as affordable as possible to off-gas grid households, and to concentrate efforts to increase the energy efficiency of rural households. At the very least, a minister should assume lead responsibility for the off-gas grid sector.

“Energy bills are becoming extremely difficult for many of my constituents both rural and urban but it is frustrating to know that simple actions could help ease the burden.”

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