HASTINGS is one of the worst areas in the south east for numbers of people struggling to pay their energy bills.
More than 7,100 households - around 15 per cent - are living in fuel poverty in the Hastings and Rye constituency, according to the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, which is calling for much more help for people facing rising bills.
It identified the 10 constituencies in the south east with the highest percentage of people struggling to pay their bills.
The Energy Bill Revolution is urging the Government to recycle the taxes charged on fuel bills into a major new insulations scheme that would cut bills by helping people use less fuel to keep warm.
From 2013 onwards, the Government will raise an average of £4 billion in carbon taxes every year from the European Emissions Trading Scheme and the Carbon Floor Price, enough to bring nine out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty, campaigners say.
They are urging MPs to show support by adding their name to a cross-party statement tabled in Parliament called Early Day Motion 47 - Reducing Fuel Bills through Energy Efficiency.
Dina Christodoulou, chief executive of Citizens Advice 1066, said: “Energy prices are not any cheaper in Hastings than anywhere else but the salaries are lower.
“We are seeing a growing number of people each year coming to see us who are struggling to pay their bills and are working with other agencies to go out and help people get the best supply and tariff needs.
“Many homes in Hastings and St Leonards are in quite a bad state of disrepair so residents are having to spend more money on heating as some of the warmth escapes.” Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye, said: “I am strongly committed to helping the low income families in Hastings and Rye to heat their homes at an affordable rate. “That is why we have a range of policies in place to help with reducing the cost and the consumption of energy. The Green Deal will this year help people pay for energy efficiency in their own homes.
“This Government rightly continues the winter fuel payments and the cold weather payments. I will make sure that vulnerable Hastings residents continue to receive that vital payment.
“Above all we need a greater diversity of supply, wherever possible nationally, to reduce the overall cost of energy rather than being so dependent on rising energy prices at the mercy of global events.”
Ed Matthew, director of Transform UK, the organisation co-ordinating the Energy Bill Revolution, said: “It is scandalous that anyone in a developed country should face the choice of whether to buy food or heat their home. From next year the Government will have the money to end the blight of fuel poverty. This is the most fair and just solution and we hope all MPs will join the 135 MPs who are currently supporting it.”
The Energy Bill Revolution is an alliance of more than 80 charities, unions, consumer groups and businesses.
For more information about the Energy Bill Revolution and the recent report on fuel poverty, visit: www.energybillrevolution.org.