Coventry Climate Action Network supports the following open letter
From: Climate Action Network West Midlands Steering Group.
To: West Midlands Mayor
CC: Leaders of seven metropolitan councils of West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Members of WMCA Energy and Environment Board and senior officers.
6th October 2022
Dear Mayor Street,
Tackling the Fuel Poverty Crisis in West Midlands
We are writing to you to raise grave concerns about rising fuel poverty in the West
Midlands. As you know, the region has some of the highest rates of deprivation and
fuel poverty in the country. Despite the revised energy price cap, many more
households will suffer from fuel poverty this winter. In short, tens of thousands of
people in our region are facing a financial crisis with attendant misery, ill health and
more extreme consequences [Ref 1.]
We are deeply concerned by the lack of co-ordinated action at Regional and Local
Government level to help households deal with this crisis, which is caused by
rapidly rising prices for energy, food and housing costs.
Therefore, we ask to meet with you and LA Leaders face to face in the very near
future to discuss and, we hope, progress the following concrete proposals:
1. WMCA Board, LA Leaders and Chief Executives formally recognise and
announce that this winter is a public health emergency.
2. In the very near term, WMCA and all member authorities work with civil society
stakeholders on a communication strategy and local self-help schemes – in
effect to establish a task force. Clear, authoritative communications are
needed urgently regarding what financial help is available and how to claim it,
plus simple measures which households can take to reduce their energy use
while keeping warm.
We believe that the fuel poverty crisis requires a mass community mobilisation
similar to that during the Covid epidemic. Councils know their vulnerable
people and families and know where the highest rates of fuel poverty are, so a
combined effort between LAs and local community organisations (including
schools and faith groups) plus volunteers could be established. With
appropriate support, some existing food bank organisers might extend their
services to help those in fuel poverty.
3. WMCA divert some existing strategic housing / retrofit budget to help deal with
the immediate crisis including funding of local communal “warm spaces”.
4. The WMCA Board write formally to central government requesting major public
investment in a large scale, sustained housing retrofit programme, including a
coordinated approach to the necessary skills training.
A large scale retrofit programme would help alleviate fuel poverty, reduce
demand for gas, cut carbon emissions and create skilled and semi-skilled jobs.
5. The WMCA Board urgently consider establishing a not-for-profit municipal
enterprise for retrofit, along similar lines to the one being developed in
Glasgow [Ref 2]. This measure would focus on the most vulnerable households,
reinvest any surplus earned from those who can afford to pay for retrofit
services and ensure the highest standards of work.
6. Increase the frequency of Greener Together forum meetings and link it with
the task force/action programme proposed above.
We also note that investment in fracking and offshore oil and gas extraction will not
help tackle the crisis. Furthermore, such measures are the exact opposite of what is
required to tackle the broader climate crisis and support the #WM2041 strategy.
We look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Climate Action Network West Midlands Steering Group
Copied to Climate and Environmental Groups, Fuel Poverty Groups, Trade Unions,
Public Health officials throughout the region
1 Over 330,000 excess deaths in Great Britain linked to austerity https://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_885099_en.html