Fuel Poverty

Back to all Motions

2009 National Delegate Conference
29 May 2009

Fuel poverty is generally defined as when an individual or household spends at least 10% of their disposable income on fuel.

Conference notes that The Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 and the government’s Fuel Poverty Strategy require the government to end fuel poverty for vulnerable people by 2010 and to end fuel poverty for everyone by 2016. However, the government’s own figures and a report from its official advisory group on fuel poverty predict that neither target is likely to be achieved.

Fuel poverty affects many low-paid workers and their families as well as many pensioners and other vulnerable groups living on fixed incomes. UNISON members in the energy sector deal with fuel poverty every day while trying to help vulnerable people suffering from its effects.

It is estimated that the number of fuel poor rose to 4.4 million in January 2008, while a recent National Right to Fuel Campaign report shows that the energy industry is profiteering from rising wholesale energy prices. Estimates suggest these profits may be as much as £3 billion.

Conference deplores the blatant profiteering within the energy industry, agrees prepay/token members to be charged the same rate as direct debit members and instruct(s) the National Executive Council to:

1)call upon the government through all appropriate channels to levy, as a matter of urgency, a windfall tax on energy companies, including domestic fuel providers, and a realistic and urgent increase in the help available to pensioners and other vulnerable groups most likely to suffer from fuel poverty;

2)support the National Right to Fuel Campaign, National Energy Action and other relevant campaigning organisations;

3)encourage branches to support the National Right to Fuel Campaign and to urge branches and regions to do likewise:

4)call on the government through all appropriate channels, to fund and organise a Home Insulation Programme

5)lobby through Labour Link for government action on this issue