The Rural Services Network calls upon an incoming Government to:
- Recognise that fuel poverty is a significant rural issue and that rising fuel prices hit many rural households hard. Policy initiatives should therefore target rural needs and be designed to suit rural circumstances.
- Maintain the current value of the Winter Fuel Payment for pensioners. This is hugely important for a vulnerable segment of rural society, who might otherwise worry about fuel bills. Government should consider paying it earlier in the year when oil fuel and LPG prices tend to be lower.
- Pay close regard to the guidance which is being drawn up by NICE into excess winter deaths and illnesses, devising policy actions to support its implementation.
- Amend the eligibility criteria for phase two of the Green Deal Home Improvement Scheme so it applies to oil and LPG boilers.
- Press energy providers hard to meet the 15% rural target for ECO and to refocus their efforts on solid wall homes. The rural fuel poor, who contribute to ECO through their energy bills, must start to see more benefits.
- Ensure that free advice about energy saving measures is both available to and reaches rural communities. Work with and support the local authorities and organisations (such as Calor, NEA and the ACRE Network) who seek to provide it.
- Support and promote those organisations and communities which establish practical help through Oil Bulk Buying schemes to cut bills for households that have oil central heating systems.
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