West Ham MP Lyn Brown says the Prime Minister needs to talk with real people over fuel poverty


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Regular followers of Prime Ministers Questions can’t have failed to notice the debate about our energy bills.

I have to say, the Prime Minister looks increasingly out-of-touch with families struggling against rising prices and flat-lining wages, but it’s easy to be detached from harsh reality, as he is, when your family is personally unaffected by rising prices.

A member of my staff ­recently decided to work part-time, in order to undertake a Higher Degree.

I suggested she worked at home for a couple of days each week, envying her the opportunity to study comfortably in sloppy clothes, without the daily grind of travel in London.

She was aghast. That would mean additional heat and light and she didn’t have the capacity in her reduced budget. Where David Cameron and I differ is that I listen and learn from people who talk to me.

I know my personal situation differs greatly from very many in our communities who, like my assistant, must budget carefully to meet their daily bills.

In the most recent statistics of excess winter deaths, Newham comes ninth out of 32 London boroughs.

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Newham is consistently in the top four areas of London where more than 10 per cent of household income is spent on heating: the definition of fuel poverty.

Since 2010, the average household’s energy bill has swollen by over £300 a year. This is why we need action on energy prices. Companies have to start putting people before profit.

That’s why I’m proud of the Labour Party commitment to freeze energy prices and to work to keep prices affordable.

For weeks, Ed Miliband has challenged the Prime Minister to listen to the concerns of hard-working people and do something about rising prices.

Sadly, this Prime Minister is far too weak to stand up to the powerful.

He would rather blame than help those without the means to heat their homes, instructing them instead to put on another woolly jumper.

I remain hopeful that public pressure will badger Cameron into doing the right thing, but I’m not holding my breath.