June may be a strange time to think about your central heating bills, but Hackney and Tower Hamlets Friends of the Earth are hard at work lobbying the Government to introduce new laws to help protect residents from rising energy prices.
As local MP, Diane Abbott said recently, “Rising energy and fuel prices are affecting everyone but it is the poorest and those on fixed incomes who are paying the heaviest price.”
The number of Hackney residents who can’t afford to heat their homes is more than double the UK average. Friends of the Earth have been working with consumer groups, charities, councils and tenants rights groups to put pressure on the Government to help people stay warm in winter and save money on their energy bills all year round.
We’ve already had some big successes. In May, the Government agreed to set new standards for private landlords to improve the energy efficiency of rental homes. This will save tenants money and help protect dwindling natural resources. But the Government doesn’t want to act until 2018 and we think this is too long to wait. That’s why we’re asking the Government to commit to introduce this change two years earlier – in 2016.
This is a small change for the Government but would make a big difference to tenants. We also believe that tenants should be able to demand these standards from landlords without fear of eviction. We want the Government to introduce safeguards to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords who try and dodge the new laws.
Friends of the Earth don’t just want to help tenants though. We think the Government should be doing more to encourage and support home owners to make their homes more energy efficient. This is why we want them to introduce a Warm Homes Amendment. This is not just about helping the environment. With 100 properties being repossessed everyday across the UK according to recent statistics from Credit Action, this is about saving home owners money and protecting their properties.
Of course, it’s not just Whitehall which needs to take action. Local authorities have a major role to play. Some councils, like Islington and Haringey, are already acting locally to reduce carbon emissions – helping the environment and cutting costs. However, more councils, including Hackney, need to follow their lead. 40 councils from all political parties, businesses and trade unions have called on the Government to introduce a law requiring councils to draw up action plans on how they intend to tackle climate change in their area.
The changes we’re asking for from the Government will save money for Hackney residents and people across the country, help protect us all from the continuing rise in energy prices, and are good for the environment too. We think that this is just common sense.
It’s not too late to get involved. You can find out how by visiting the Friends of the Earth website.