Fuel Poverty

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Conference
2007 Retired Members' Conference
Date
13 June 2007
Decision

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, in his March 2006 budget, totally ignored the needs of pensioners coping with higher fuel bills. Fuel poverty is described as being when a household spends at least 10 percent of its income on fuel costs.

The fuel allowance, which has remained at £200 since 2003, was not increased in line with the spiralling prices of gas and electricity. Since 2002/3 electricity has risen on average by 32 percent and gas by 48.9 percent compared with the basic state pension which has increased by only 8.7 percent. For every 10 percent rise in fuel bills, it is estimated a further 200,000 people go into fuel poverty. One result (from the Office of National Statistics) states that excess winter deaths recorded between December and March are over the numbers experiences through the rest of the year. In the period December 2005 to March 2006, 23,200 older people died and since Labour came to power in 1997, over 260,000 older people have died during the winter months. Quoting Gordon Brown, ‘pensioners should not have to choose between spending money on food or spending money to keep warm.’

Therefore, Conference

1)instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee (NRMC) and calls on the National Executive Council to strongly campaign for an increase of an additional £300 in the fuel allowance immediately ensuring that £500 will be available for pensioners to meet fuel bills incurred during the winter months of 2007/8 and in subsequent years. This extra money is needed as the basic state pension has not been increased to a level where fuel bills can be met without handouts;