With average energy costs for families set to soar by £693 a year from April, along with £12 billion of national insurance tax rises, inflation heading for 7% and interest rates going up now too, it is little wonder the Bank of England is telling people to ‘brace yourself for the biggest annual fall in standards of living in 30 years’.
At a national level Labour is demanding a windfall tax on the big oil and gas companies who are reporting huge profits as prices rise to fund a package of help worth £200 for all households and £600 for those – families, pensioners, the low paid – on lower incomes. This would help 39,358 households here in Westminster.
At a local level, Labour is demanding answers from Westminster Council about how what will happen to the small pot of money (£144m for the whole country) that has been allocated for people and places not eligible for the Government’s limited rebate on Council tax for homes in Bands A-D, a scheme which excludes most families in Westminster where many council flats and even new build studio properties fall in Band E or above. Local residents need to know now how much money will be made available for people in Westminster and who will be eligible for help. It is essential that the support is given to those who need it most and Westminster Labour will join calls for further reforms to the proposed system are made (as set out by the Resolution Foundation) if the Government continues to reject the call for a windfall tax and wider package of support proposed by the Labour party nationally.
Given the risk that high energy prices will be with us for several years, particularly if the Conservative government fails to listen to Labour, it is essential that the council does more at a local level to help make homes more energy efficient to help cut bills down.
If elected to run the Council on May 5th Westminster Labour will:
- Accelerate the retrofitting of council housing stock in Westminster, particularly speeding up replacing windows including the 39% of Westminster’s Council Homes stuck with single glazing.
- Maximise investment from the Council’s Carbon-offset fund, the Mayor of London’s Warmer Homes scheme, the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery scheme, the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund; the Home Upgrade Grant and other funding sources to boost insulating, reglazing and other retrofitting in the private sector.
- Create a taskforce bringing together the council, private landlords, leaseholder-owned share of freehold companies and housing associations to find new ways to support installing insulation, upgrade windows and other measures to save on energy use and reduce emissions from all buildings.
- Improve advice and support for those wanting to install new windows in listed buildings and conservation areas.
- Support private landlords to improve their property’s compliance with minimum energy efficiency standards
- Improve enforcement by environmental health officers to tackle housing association and private rented sector homes that have ‘excess cold’ due to disrepair or poor design.
- Support and promote Westminster’s Warm Homes Advice Service, as well as access to the pan-London energy advice service Seasonal Health Intervention Network (SHINE London), which work to help low-income families with their energy bills.