MANYfamilies in Brent are having to consider whether they put their heatingon or not with 20 per cent of them predicted to be in fuel poverty this year.
In 2008, the borough had the thirdhighest level of fuel poverty in London, at 12.7 per cent, in figuresreleased by the Department of Energy and Climate Change
The council now believes this to be 20 per cent around 20,000 households and this could be an underestimation.
Labourcouncillor Zaffar Van Kalwala, who represents one of Brents mostdeprived areas, Stonebridge, points out that the borough has the thirdlowest average income level in the capital.
Thereare 21,504 households in Brent that have an average annual income ofs15,000 or less, with the highest number of these being inStonebridge, he said.
Its horrifying that so many local people are suffering because they cant afford to heat their home.
Thegovernment says it will continue to pay fuel payments, but thetemporary increase last winter of s50 for households with someone agedup to 79 and s100 for households with someone aged 80 or over will notbe paid.
Minet Brown, 70,of Swinderby Road, Wembley, is one of those suffering. She said thatwhile s50 does not sound a lot, it can make a big difference tofamilies who are struggling on low incomes.
Its just me in my flat now, as my husband died, she added. I am
expecting it to be a very tough winter. It might not sound like a lot of money, but it is a lot to some of us.
This cut to the payment compared with what I got last year is going to change the amount of time I can have the heating on.
ADepartment of Work and Pensions spokesman said: We have protectedwinter fuel payments, which remain a significant contribution to olderpeoples winter fuel costs, and permanently increased the cold weatherpayment from s8.50 to s25 a week.
Councillor Janet Long was previously chairman of the Fuel Poverty Task Group.
Shesaid: We are still working on a fuel poverty strategy. Brent HousingPartnership and registered social landlords are planning to installsolar panels but the reducation of the Feed In tariff for socialhousing has caused the economics of this to be re-examined but it ishoped that the scheme will still progress.