Mayor: Retro’s the way forward

SOUTH Yorkshire mayor Oliver Coppard has accused the government of being “missing in action” and called for home energy efficiency schemes to be “scaled up” to help as the cost of living crisis deepens.

Visiting a retrofit scheme the day Ofgem revealed autumn energy bill rises, Mr Coppard said ministers were “letting down households already struggling to make ends meet”.

In South Yorkshire, almost one in five families are already in fuel poverty, meaning they struggle to meet the costs of running and heating their homes. Retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient can help cut energy bills.

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Mr Coppard said “rocketing” energy prices and rising inflation were already “inflicting real misery on many people here in South Yorkshire”.

He said: “We have some of the highest rates of fuel poverty in the country and workers here are paid almost £2 an hour less than the national average. Years of austerity and chronic underinvestment in our economy have left us less resilient to weather the shocks facing us this winter.

“Meanwhile we have a government missing in action, whose ideas have run out, which has no plan to help people through the next few months and beyond.”

Mr Coppard described retrofit schemes as “encouraging”, and said they should be “scaled-up at pace across the country — not only to save people money, but to create greener, warmer homes and help us decarbonise our region”.

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A government spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices which is why we have acted to protect the eight million most vulnerable British families through at least £1,200 of direct payments this year with additional support for pensioners and those claiming disability benefits.

“Through our £37 billion support package we are also saving the typical employee over £330 a year through a tax cut in July, allowing people on Universal Credit to keep £1,000 more of what they earn and cutting fuel duty by 5p saving a typical family £100.”