MP calls for more help on Warm Homes

Hull North MP Diana Johnson today called for further improvements to the Government's Warm Front scheme to combat the effects of rising heating bills.

In House of Commons questions to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Hull North MP asked ministers: "In view of the steep increases in domestic energy bills, does my hon. Friend agree that a further improvement to the scheme, which would help those most likely to be in fuel poverty, would be to replace the warm front scheme's current maximum grant arrangements with a system based on an average grant? Such a system is already in place in Scotland and it ensures that low income households are not required to make any contribution to the cost of the work in their homes."

DEFRA minister Jim Knight MP replied that the Government is keeping the Warm Front scheme under review and that the Chancellor had recently provided an extra £250 million towards improving Warm Front in England.

Diana Johnson MP said: "There is a danger that the Government's efforts to combat fuel poverty will be compromised by the huge increases in energy bills being levied by the private utilities.

"The Government's Warm Front scheme has been a great success since Labour introduced it in 2000, helping to improve energy efficiency and reduce heating costs in over 3,000 households in Hull North alone. This has been accompanied by Labour's extra help for pensioners on meeting heating costs.

"However, with the private gas and electricity utilities making swingeing increases in bills, I am concerned that the Warm Front scheme needs to be strengthened in order to maintain its effectiveness in promoting energy efficiency and combating fuel poverty amongst households that have to spend a large proportion of their incomes getting through the coldest months of winter."