New bid to tackle the thousands in fuel poverty in Norfolk

A task force of county councillors are looking at how to stop vulnerable people having to choose between eating or heating.
Photo credit: Help the aged/PA. A task force of county councillors are looking at how to stop vulnerable people having to choose between eating or heating. Photo credit: Help the aged/PA.

Monday, January 6, 2014
6:30 AM

Together, we can do more to stop people in Norfolk from having to choose between heating and eating – that is the message from a task force set up to investigate the scale of the problem in the county.

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Surviving Winter

Norfolk’s Surviving Winter appeal has smashed through the £25,000 barrier. But requests are still coming in faster than donations, as some of our neediest elderly people feel the chill.

Norfolk Community Foundation last month issued a fresh call to those who may not need their winter fuel payments to pass the money on to those who do.

Surviving Winter, backed by the EDP, has been a lifeline for hundreds of Norfolk’s neediest households, giving grants towards the cost of fuel.

There are three ways you can give to the appeal:

AT BARCLAYS

You can give a donation direct to the appeal at any branch of Barclays Bank in Norfolk. Just fill in a credit slip using the following details:

Surviving Winter Appeal

Barclays Bank

Sort Code: 20-62-53

Bank Account: 03282503

BY TEXT

You can now donate to the Surviving Winter campaign by text from any UK network via JustTextGiving.

The campaign’s code is NFCF11, which needs to be followed by the amount £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 (max), and send to 70070.

For example: A donor would text ‘NFCF11 £5’ and send it to 70070 to donate £5.

BY POST

Some supporters choose to donate an amount equivalent to their own winter fuel allowance if they do not need it themselves, or pop a cheque in the post for the amount of their choice. Please make it payable to the Norfolk Community Foundation and sent to Norfolk Community Foundation, St James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN.

But Norfolk County councillors, who formed a group to look at the issue, are furious that just one of the big six energy companies they approached for information on what is being done to help bothered to write back to the council.

The group of six county councillors and Sam Revill, from Healthwatch Norfolk, has been looking at fuel poverty since the summer.

They wanted to look at the reasons why Norfolk had the highest level of fuel poverty in East Anglia, what services were currently helping tackle it and what more could be done by the county council and other organisations to alleviate it.

County councillor Shelagh Gurney, who chaired the group, said in the report: “The panel was conscious that the combination of rising energy costs, welfare reform and shrinking local authority budgets could make for a very uncomfortable winter for some of the most vulnerable people in Norfolk.

“The main focus, therefore, was to find out what more could be done to alleviate fuel poverty in these unpromising circumstances.”

The group met representatives from councils across Norfolk, from Age UK Norfolk, the Norfolk Community Foundation, Norfolk Rural Community Council, Norfolk Housing Alliance, Eastern Landlords Association and the Federation of Master Builders.

They also wrote to the big six energy companies asking how many homes in Norfolk had benefited from work under the Energy Company Obligation and what they, as major energy suppliers, were doing to help customers find the best possible tariff.

But Mrs Gurney said: “We are disappointed to report that there has been no response to our letters from National Grid, E.ON and Scottish Power. British Gas, Npower and EDF have telephoned and promised a reply, but at the time of writing, only SSE had provided a written response.”

Just before the group started its work, the definition of fuel poverty changed. The original definition, known as the 10pc definition, was that a household was said to be fuel poor if it needed to spend more than 10pc of its income on fuel to maintain an adequate level of warmth.

But a new definition, the Low Income High Cost (LIHC) definition was introduced in July last year. That works out fuel poverty in a different way, finding a household to be fuel poor if they have required fuel costs that are above average and, were they to spend that amount on fuel, they would be left with an income below the official poverty line.

The differences in definition has produced what the panel described as a “significant reduction” in the official levels of fuel poverty in Norfolk for 2011, as the table shows.

Under the old measure, North Norfolk and West Norfolk had the highest levels, but under the new definition, Norwich and Great Yarmouth are highest.

From this year, the second definition will become the only one used in discussions about fuel poverty.
And Mrs Gurney said that could make it tougher for Norfolk to get resources to tackle the problem.

She said: “We understand the reasons for changing to the LIHC definition... However, it also appears to us that the change may not be helpful to Norfolk in future discussions about targeting of national resources.”

The Fuel Poverty In Norfolk report will come before members of the county council’s community services overview and scrutiny panel when it meets tomorrow.

16 comments

  • I like her retro electric fire circa 1950s. I wonder if it still has the original round pin bakelite plug on the end? The settee is much more modern...perhaps 1980s, but I am not sure if it fully complies with British Standards concerning fire proofing.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • the bottom line is this is a country in which millions of people have to choose between heating or eating . A country which the trussel trust predicts will have a million people on food parcels next year . . A country with millions unemployed and a housing crisis . because of thirteen years of labour . But david cameron and the coalition paint a completely different picture of what is happening in the uk today . You only get what you vote for

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • My mate bob says it looks more like the fire was made in the 1930s...early 40s.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • Articles like this, be muse me, It is not only the elederly , and families fuel poverty affects, changing how it is defined, changes nothing. I as a singleton. working two very part time jobs, could not afford 10% of my wages for fuel, the current definition, is crazy, higher than normal fuel cost, I cannot afford to use extra heating. I frequently sit in a cold house,, huddled under blankets hugging a hot drink, the weather is not cold yet, I dread to think what will hqppens when it does get cold!!!

    Report this comment

    lucy

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • @ Honest John - I could not agree with you more. It is rather irresponsible of the government to hand out winter fuel payments in November, just before xmas. Instead of waiting until January or February when the largest bill of the year is due. Paying out before xmas only encourages people to spend the money on xmas, rather than for the purpose it was intended.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • Changing the goalpost indicators for measuring who's in fuel poverty or not, will not help those who live in substandard, badly insulated housing. Large energy providers and party politicians are responsible for the increasing death rates from hyperthermia every year they lift their prices. For Gideon this means money saved in pensions.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • 9% of this person's bill is green subsidy for renewable energy, this will only increase. A large amount of fuel poverty is caused by this Greeniot lunacy

    Report this comment

    windup

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • For "task force" read:- "A group for us to make out we are doing something but come up with nothing".

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • If you must have a pet then a budgie with a temperature of 106 deg is the best bet. I would suggest a couple of budgies in every room for best heating effect, and perhaps put a couple under your blankets just before you go to bed.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • Larson can you please stop confusing me with Bob.....he is very sensitive.

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

  • the bottom line is this is a country in which millions of people have to choose between heating or eating . A country which the trussel trust predicts will have a million people on food parcels next year . . A country with millions unemployed and a housing crisis . because of thirteen years of labour . But david cameron and the coalition paint a completely different picture of what is happening in the uk today . You only get what you vote for

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • While I accept fuel bills are rising out of control for everyone, this lady, presumably over 61 and under 80, would get a winter fuel allowance of £200, what has she spent it on? Wouldn't it be more sensible for the government to make these payments directly to the utility providers so the money is spent where it is intended? The same goes for people on benefits - provide tokens that are only redeemable for what they are subsidising. Paying cash allows people to spend money on wants rather than needs and that is not what the benefits system should be about, is it?

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • They can change definitions as much as they like but if somebody is cold, they are cold, that is the yardstick. Spot-on "V". "Popeye", is your name an alias for Ian Duncan Smith, or are you just angling for a job in his department?

    Report this comment

    Dictate

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • ....."having to choose between heating and eating".....Why not cook boil in the bag rice and put the hot water in a hot water bottle? More seriously the lady obviously owns a large dog (my Sherlock Holmes hat) which will produce about 16 KWH of heat per week at a cost of say £16 a week in dog food and doggy treats. Her 1 kw electric fire would only cost £2.40 to produce the same amount of heat. So if she got rid of her dog she would be 6 or 7 times warmer and not be in fuel poverty. So I blame the dog.

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    Rhombus

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • 800,000 households are suddenly not,according to the government, in fuel poverty because of this change in the words used to define it,yet another example of the disinformation consistently supplied by this government to try to hide the awful truth of the effects of their policies.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Monday, January 6, 2014

  • You have a mate ? Or is it just another voice inside your head ?

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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