The Truth

Government taken to court over pensioners' fuel poverty .........

added 12/4/08

By Lucy Cockcroft
Daily Telegraph

Ministers are today accused of breaking a legally-binding promise to help pensioners pay for soaring fuel bills.

Campaigners will today launch an attempt to sue the Government for failing to meet its own targets which were set to tackle the problem.

Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth will jointly file a judicial review application at the High Court, alleging that the Government has broken a promise to reduce heating costs.

They will argue that efforts to eradicate fuel poverty in vulnerable households by 2010 and all homes by 2016 - as set out in the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000 - will not be achieved if the Government does not take more decisive action.

A household is defined as being in fuel poverty if more than 10 per cent of its income is spent on achieving satisfactory indoor heating, and other energy services such as cooking and lighting.

Nearly three million households in Britain are still struggling to heat their homes adequately.

Mervyn Kohler, from Help the Aged, said: "The Government's fuel poverty strategy is a fiasco and, all too often, older people are the casualties.

"When fuel costs fell the Government was happy to take the credit for falling fuel poverty figures. Now that the energy market has changed and the importance of domestic energy consumption has grown, it must take responsibility for its inadequate response."

The charities hope the High Court will go ahead with the judicial review, the legal procedure used to challenge public authorities, and put pressure on the Government to uphold the promises on fuel poverty.