Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Worthing Lib Dems sign up to “No Child Left in the Cold” campaign.

Worthing Liberal Democrats have today signed up to Save the Children’s “No Child Left in the Cold” campaign to end fuel poverty affecting Britain’s poorest families.

Save the Children warns the vast majority of parents who cannot heat their home this winter are not getting any help from energy suppliers.

According to Save the Children, 800,000 of the poorest families qualify for a £120 discount on fuel bills under the Warm Homes Discount scheme, but a huge funding shortfall means only 25,000 families will get it or just 3% of those eligible.  With at least 82,050 families with children in the South East eligible for the payments, families in Worthing are certain to be affected following the recent shocking report on Child Poverty published by the Director of Public Health.

Save the Children’s “No Child Left in the Cold” campaign calls on the energy companies and the government to fill this gap – Worthing Liberal Democrats fully support that call today.

Research shows growing up in cold, damp homes can slow children’s development, worsen long-term problems like asthma and lead to rises in hospital admission rates. Save the Children’s research has revealed over half of the low income parents of children under 16 are worried their children’s health will suffer as their house is too cold this winter. Nearly a third surveyed said they won’t be able to afford their winter energy bills and almost half (45%) said they are considering cutting back on food in order to pay their energy bills.

Worryingly only 9% of parents on the lowest incomes surveyed said they had heard of, and were planning to apply for, the Warm Homes Discount. Many of the poorest families already pay more for their energy because they cannot afford the cheapest tariffs or pay by direct debit.

Lib Dem Cllr Bob Smytherman, Shadow Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing & Chair of Worthing & Adur Joint  Fuel Poverty Review, said:

“It is disgraceful that only 3% of families entitled are receiving the Warm Homes Discount and parents are forced to choose between eating and keeping warm. That is why Worthing Liberal Democrats are fully behind Save the Children’s ‘No Child Left in the Cold’ campaign and we add our call to the energy companies and government to make good the funding shortfall.

“As a trustee of Worthing & Arun Mind I found one of the most worrying statistics was the fact that more than one in four adolescents living in cold housing are at risk of multiple mental health problems compared to one in twenty adolescents who have always lived in warm housing.

“We therefore call on the Worthing Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing to add Worthing Borough Council’s full weight behind the campaign.”

Bob Smytherman Chaired the Worthing & Adur Fuel Poverty review that was presented to the Council last winter and this is the link to full report and recommendations that were agreed by both Councils and the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be discussing progress (or the lack of it) next Thursday 12 January 2012 at 6.30 p.m. in Worthing Town Hall

http://www.worthing.gov.uk/your-council/decision-makingcabinetcommitteeinformation/joint-overview-and-scrutiny-committee/18november2010/pdffile,76173,en.pdf

For further information about the Save the Children campaign please contact: Oliver Courtney on 0207 012 6469 or out of hours on 07831 650409.

– Save the Children wants all families eligible for Cold Weather Payments to be paid the Warm Home Discount. Cold Weather payments are made to families on very low incomes (for example those in receipt of Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance) with either young children or children with a disability. These families are considered most at risk of fuel poverty and the effects of the living in a cold home. Other groups, such as older people on low incomes and disabled adults, can also get help through Cold Weather Payments. Cold Weather Payments of £25 are usually paid when there are seven days of continuously cold weather.

– Consumer can sign Save the Children petition calling on the CEOs of the biggest six energy companies to commit the money needed at www.savethechildren.org.uk/coldkids.

– Follow the No Child Cold Left in the Cold campaign on twitter #coldkids.
– The Marmot Review concluded that hospital admission rates, developmental status and asthmatic conditions were increased by growing up in cold damp homes. And more than one in four adolescents living in cold housing are at risk of multiple mental health problems compared to one in twenty adolescents who have always lived in warm housing.
– The average duel fuel bill currently stands at £1,345 (Source: Ofgem) with low income families often paying a lot more because they can’t access the best deals.

– 59% of parents polled are having to cut back elsewhere to afford their energy bills this winter, regardless of their income
– 55% of parents polled are worried about being into pushed into debt if they can’t afford their energy bill.

Annual Child Poverty Strategy report is available on request.