Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for South Swindon is demanding more support for a group of Freshbrook pensioners over increasing energy bills.
Heidi Alexander has joined forces with local West Swindon politicians from her party.
The pensioners who are residents at Windmill Court, a complex of retirement flats owned by housing association Stonewater.
They say they face increases of £100 a week as a result of increased energy costs, but as part of a district heating scheme they are ineligible for support under the Government’s energy price guarantee which applies to other domestic energy users.
In a letter to the Energy Minister Amanda Solloway, Heidi Alexander and Cllrs Sean Wilson and Repi Begum argue that these elderly residents should have been a priority for support, not an afterthought.
The letter seeks clarity on what financial support will be forthcoming following the as March Budget for people who rely upon so-called heat networks - district heating schemes - to heat their homes.
In a letter to Stonewater, they ask whether the housing association could absorb any of the increased costs. This follows a residents' meeting at Windmill Court, attended Ms Alexander and Cllr Wilson.
Ms Alexander said: “These eye watering increases in service charges - driven by increased energy costs - are simply unaffordable. And this is on top of an 11 percent rent increase.
"Many Windmill Court residents are solely dependent upon their state pensions for income and so they just don’t have the money in their bank accounts to be paying out an extra £100 a week.
"The fact that they are excluded from the Government’s energy price cap scheme seems to be the fundamental problem."
She added: "The fact that the housing association, Stonewater are also choosing to pass on the increased energy costs to their tenants in full is also quite astonishing. They should absorb some of the increase, if not the full amount. The repayment plans Stonewater are talking about - which simply spread the horrific cost over a longer time frame - just don’t cut it.
"It’s disgraceful that vulnerable older people who are the least able in society to shoulder the full burden of energy price hikes have been put in this situation. The Government and the housing association need to act. Just because these flats are on a district heating scheme shouldn’t mean that the residents who live there are forced into destitution.”
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