By Lucy Cockcroft
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.