Rochdale MP steps up call for end to fuel poverty

March 5, 2009 12:00 AM

Lib Dem Shadow Minister for Works and Pensions Paul Rowen MP.Rochdale's Lib Dem Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions Paul Rowen MP yesterday stepped up his call for an end to fuel poverty amongst pensioners.

Mr Rowen was speaking in a Westminster Debate looking at issues affecting pensioner told the debate that the Government has not put enough pressure on fuel companies to help reduce bills and repeated his call for a restoration of the link between pensions and earnings.

"The Government has not tackled fuel poverty," Mr Rowen said. "Yes, the fuel allowance has been increased, but the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, despite promising that he would legislate if necessary to do something with the fuel companies, has gone down the Ofcom route of trying to persuade people instead. The changes that have been made still mean that people who have card meters pay £51 a year more than those who are able to pay by quarterly instalments, and that is neither fair nor right. Those are some of the issues that the Government must tackle.

"The earnings link must also be restored. I accept that the link with prices is right at the moment, but we have always said that the link should be with prices or incomes. The long-term change would more than make up for the losses. Although the prices link is currently more advantageous, in the longer term the earnings link must be restored."

Mr Rowen further claimed that the Government were more interested in helping bankers than pensioners.

He told the debate: "There are 12 million pensioners in this country and they have given their best to serve it. The Government are helping them to some extent, but more needs to be done. If we can afford to pay for ex-bankers' huge pension increases, whether approved by the Government or not, we ought to consider the ordinary man in the street. I hope that the Minister will take account of that point."