Posts Tagged fuel poverty

Signing the pledge

Signing the pledge used to refer to going teetotal (not something I’m about to do, although I respect those who have). But there are now pledges a gogo for us all to sign up to.

Today is the last day to vote in the Power2010 ballot on which reform pledges you most want the next government to fulfil. As I’ve blogged before, these include lots of excellent ideas, including fairer votes, fixed term parliaments, ending ID cards, and the right to recall corrupt MPs.

Another pledge vote is for the top House Proud pledge, promoted by Inside Housing. I’ve already signed up to their petition pledging to make housing a priority in the next Parliament.

Housing is a vital issue in communities like Islington South & Finsbury. Islington Council is building new council homes which is great but we also need work to make existing homes greener, and action to bring the thousands of empty homes into use.

But what should the top policy be? There are three candidates for the pledge: to continue the investment in decent homes; to retrofit existing homes to make them greener; or to put residents ahead of the bottom line. I’ve gone for option B, green retrofitting. Why? Well, option C is nice but vague, and option A, the decent homes programme, is retrospective anyway.

Option B, a programme to make existing homes greener, would fight climate change, provide sustainable local jobs and give people warmer homes with lower fuel bills. It’s a brilliant idea. Just a pity it’s one the Labour government vetoed when the LibDem-backed Fuel Poverty Bill came to the vote last year….

Last week I had a really good meeting with UNICEF-UK. They happen to be based in this constituency, and are well worth a visit if only for the great gift shop at reception, all in aid of their excellent work promoting children’s rights around the world.

UNICEF are promoting three pledges for parliamentary candidates:

1. UK Child Poverty: Around 4 million UK children are denied a childhood free from poverty. Living in poverty has a profound impact on children’s health, education and well-being.
I agree to take urgent action in Parliament to end child poverty in the UK by 2020.
2. International Development: Millions of children living in low-income countries are denied their rights. They lack access to healthcare, education, fair treatment and ultimately a childhood.
I agree to champion the rights of children in low income countries and highlight the urgent need to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
3. Child Rights: Most people do not know about the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means children are often denied their right to be heard and have their views taken into account.
I agree to listen to young people in my prospective constituency and provide them with opportunities to make their voice heard on decisions which affect them.
I’m very pleased to have signed up to all three.

It is a disgrace that the Labour government has failed to hit its own child poverty reduction goals. Liberal Democrats are committed to tackling child poverty at home, through policies such as the pupil premium, and globally through effective international aid and development. It is my aim to work with existing programmes such as ‘Listen Up!’ in Islington to give my younger constituents their chance to air their views.

I also support votes at 16 (another of the Power2010 ideas) to give more young people a real say in the democratic process. It’s daft that at 16 you can pay taxes, and join the armed forces, even get married, yet not have a vote.

There’s no age restriction on the Power2010 and Inside Housing pledges, so get voting!

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Fuel poverty campaign in the Gazette

The Islington Gazette has published my letter on the Fuel Poverty Bill – and Emily Thornberry’s shocking failure to vote.

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Thornberry’s indifference helps kill Fuel Poverty Bill

If your MP could help pass a Bill in Parliament which could save lives, help the poorest people in Britain, help in the fight against climate change, and what’s more create jobs in a recession, don’t you think that would be worthwhile?

I do, and that’s why I backed the Fuel Poverty Bill introduced by Liberal Democrat MP David Heath.

With the spring weather we may forget the tragedy that 20,000 people needlessly die from the cold each year, and many more become ill. Fuel prices have more than doubled over the last five years. Many homes are poorly insulated so that energy is wasted.

The Fuel Poverty Bill would end fuel poverty by 2016 by bringing all homes up to standard and cutting fuel bills for the poorest families. It would mean fewer people face illness or death from cold and damp. It would help to reduce the wastage of energy which contributes to climate change. And it would produce work for thousands of people when we desperately need it.

The Bill has been backed by many major charities, including Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth. I want to thank all the Islington residents who signed my petition supporting the Bill. I would have voted for the Bill, and I congratulate MPs from all parties who did so.

Sadly I have to report that despite their hard work, the Bill will not go forward, because it just missed getting the 100 votes needed.

I am totally disgusted with Emily Thornberry, the Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, who once again did not bother to vote.

This comes after she failed to vote on Heathrow or on knife crime, she voted in favour of Post Office closures, against tax cuts, and against more money for social housing in Islington.

It is a disgraceful record.

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Home Heat Helpline

A useful article from Ministry Matters here on services available from the independent Home Heat Helpline – 0800 33 66 99 -for vulnerable groups struggling to cope with fuel bills.

Of course, making those bills fairer in the first place would also help. You can sign my petition backing the Fuel Poverty Bill here.

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Fairer fuel bills campaign in the Gazette

The Islington Gazette is covering my fairer fuel bills campaign.

The online petition is here.

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Nick visits Islington to launch schools policy

An exciting day yesterday as I spent my lunch hour welcoming party leader Nick Clegg and David Laws MP to Islington, to unveil the party’s new schools policy.

Council leader James Kempton chaired the group that produced the proposals, so it was great to have the launch in our borough. You can watch a section on the BBC Six O’Clock news here – it is about 20 minutes into the programme.

We toured New North Community School, hearing from pupils and teachers the difference that high levels of staff attention can make for all children; appropriate as reinvesting the money squandered on Gordon Brown’s baby bonds to cut primary school class sizes is at the heart of the proposals.

Mind you, it nearly didn’t happen. At the start of the week, with snow blocking the streets and local schools closed, hosting a VIP visit was the last thing on everyone’s mind. But by Thursday, New North was open and the unflappable head Mary McStay was delighted to welcome us to her school.

It’s an amazing place; a transforming school (the children’s performance scores have doubled in the time there), winner of the London Schools Environment Award, and with a strong civic sense. School governor Barbara Smith showed the photos from the school election. The children are fired up about democracy and looking forward to visiting Westminster this month (‘that’ll put them off’ said Nick drily).

New North is full of unexpected delights from the minature orchard to the roof garden to the Tracy Emin quilt.

And it’s as much a community centre as a school; there’s a children’s centre next door, plus New North run groups for parents, sewing groups for Somali women, parent and child maths lessons in Turkish, an outreach project on the Packington estate.

It was a really heartwarming visit on a cold day.

Talking of the cold, Nick also launched my fairer fuel bills petition (you can sign up here). Nick used his first ever Prime Minister’s Question Time to press Gordon Brown on the injustice of the poorest paying more for their fuel; and it’s great pleasure to have his backing on this campaign.

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Guardian blog 26 Sept

My latest Guardian blog, looking at pensions, fairness, and Labour’s prospects, is now online.

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