The rising cost of energy, and how Londoners are coping, is the focus of a new report from the London Assembly Labour group.
68% of respondents have cut back on heating because of rising energy bills, 42% have cut back on lighting and 41% on other electrical use. Most concerned about energy are the over 65s, 63% of whom said they'd have to turn down the heating – particularly worrying as the cold affects older people more. Just as shockingly, 74% of disabled respondents said they've cut back on heating, and 75% of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic respondents have done the same. Over half of BAME Londoners are using less electricity, compared to a third of white Londoners.
When it comes to fuel poverty in London, government statistics from 2011 found 9.9% of all households were classified as being in fuel poverty. The worst borough was Barnet, with 12.6% of all households, but Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond, Sutton and Waltham Forest all come above the London average.
The new report was compiled from results of a survey, so respondents are clearly self-selecting – we can presume someone's more likely to fill in such a survey if they're having to choose between the gas bill and food than someone who's whacking up the thermostat and basking in a Mediterranean indoor climate. But as this is an issue that disproportionately affects the poor, elderly and disabled, we should still listen to what they have to say.
As to solutions, Labour suggests ramping up the City Hall energy efficiency and insulation programmes, and giving more support for community energy co-operatives to try and break the monopoly of the main energy providers.
You can download the report from Murad Qureshi's website.
Photo by Sam from the Londonist Flickr pool.