Cumbria County Council is keen to hear from people struggling to pay their fuel bills as part of an examination of the issue of fuel poverty in the county.
The county council's Health and Well-being Scrutiny Committee, which looks into matters affecting people’s health, is taking stock of the current situation in the county and is keen to gather as much evidence as possible about the real-life issues facing residents here.
Cumbria has been highlighted as one of the worst-affected areas in the country for fuel poverty, which is a classification used when more than 10 per cent of a household's income is spent on energy to maintain satisfactory heat. This is due to a range of factors including the county's relatively old population, the type of housing, lack of access to mains gas supply and dual-fuel discounts, and the county's rural sparsity.
Cumbria County Council is already introducing an anti-poverty strategy which will factor in fuel poverty and has been running a series of Winter Warmth roadshows with partners in district councils and the NHS. Highlighting the range of support and grants on offer for both winter fuel payments and energy efficiency home improvement measures has been a key factor in work from both national and local agencies.
Cllr Bert Richardson, Chair of Cumbria County Council's Health and Well-being Scrutiny Committee, said:
"Meeting high fuel bills can cause a great deal of hardship to individuals and families who are already vulnerable. To reduce fuel bills, people may be tempted to avoid heating their homes properly in the winter. However this can put people’s health at risk, particularly those who are old or suffer from poor health anyway. High fuel prices can also be a big burden to some parents with young children. We are keen to hear people's experiences in the county - where they are struggling and what they are doing to cope - so we can help recommend measures which could alleviate the problem."
People can either email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to:
The Scrutiny Unit,
Cumbria County Council,
Cumbria CA3 8NA.
The deadline for correspondence is February 13 2009.
People who include their address will be sent back information and leaflets on how to claim fuel payment support and grants to insulate your home. All responses will be treated in confidence and personal details will not be passed onto third parties.
Media enquiries to Gareth Cosslett, News Manager on 01228 226332