MPs, peers, discuss fuel poverty at Commons

CSE hosts ’parliamentary breakfast’

8 November 2012

CSE's central role in helping to shape government policy on fuel poverty was underlined earlier this year as we hosted a select 'parliamentary breakfast' at the House of Commons in September, attended by a dozen MPs, peers and government officials.

The main subject for discussion at the early morning briefing was the impacts of cold homes and the need for fuel poverty awareness in the health service.

The event was funded by the Nationwide Foundation – a leading UK grant-maker which tackles financial exclusion and housing issues among older people – and chaired by its Chief Executive, Lisa Suchet.

CSE's speakers were Simon Roberts and Ian Preston. They were joined by Professor Virginia Murray, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the Health Protection Agency and Visiting Professor in Health Protection at Imperial College and King’s College London.

"We were really pleased to have been part of such an engaging discussion, albeit around a depressing subject," said Simon. "The impacts of cold homes and excess winter deaths are issues that concern the health service, as are the types of intervention that can be effective.

"The role of health services in targeting those most vulnerable to fuel poverty is also worthy of further exploration."

Parliamentary briefings have to be formally backed by an MP, and CSE was very fortunate to have Dr Therese Coffey, MP Suffolk Coastal and member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Fuel Poverty & Energy Efficiency Group, acting as sponsor.

"One key issue raised on the day was the need for greater cohesion between government departments - particularly health, work and pensions and energy and climate change," said Ian Preston.

"A good example would be sharing information to identify people who are at risk of winter death as a result of fuel poverty. This could include passing on data on homes in need of insulation and where fuel poverty grants have not been taken up."

A new cross-departmental strategy to tackle fuel poverty was proposed by Professor Hills in his recent review of the fuel poverty

Among the MPs, peers and others there was a general agreement that local projects genuinely help to address fuel poverty. But the support available and the approaches taken vary widely across the country, and greater co-ordination and better integration of the work carried out by energy agencies and the health sector would be hugely beneficial.

Who else came?
Attending the parliamentary breakfast were, in addition to those mentioned above: Alan Whitehead MP, Luciana Berger MP, Huw Irranca-Davies MP, Dawn Primarolo MP, Lord Best OBE and Baroness Andrews OBE, both members of the APPG for Housing and Care for Older People, Sam Jenkins of the Department of Energy & Climate Change, and Flora Ogilvie, Department of Health.

The Nationwide Foundation is a key funder of CSE’s advice service in Somerset which provides practical interventions for people over 50 years of age to help tackle fuel poverty.

Photo by Echinar1 reproduced under Creative Commons

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