Warm Praise for Manchester MP's Stand on Cold Homes
Local campaigners today praised a Manchester MP for standing up for people living in cold, badly insulated homes.
John Leech, MP for Manchester Withington, rebelled against the Government last week in an attempt to strengthen a new law aimed at making it illegal to rent out the worst-insulated homes. 
The Government recently announced that it would introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard for rented homes from 2018. However, campaigners from an alliance of over 30 organisations , including Friends of the Earth, Age UK, Citizens Advice, Disability Alliance and Macmillan Cancer Support, argued that this proposed new law was inadequate, contained significant loopholes and should start sooner.
John Leech voted against his party, in favour of an amendment to bring the law in two years sooner, and tabled his own amendment to close a loophole that means landlords would still be able to rent out properties that are poorly insulated and didn’t meet the minimum standard after 2018 simply because they have done some work to improve them. Both amendments were voted down by the Government.
Andy Brown, Chief Executive of Manchester Citizens Advice Bureau, said:
“Manchester CAB has seen a number of people living in the private rented sector who struggle to pay their fuel bills, but who are reluctant to ask their landlord to make basic improvements that will reduce fuel bills because they fear retaliatory action including eviction. The Government’s proposals fall short of protecting many of our most vulnerable clients.”
Ali Abbas from Manchester Friends of the Earth said:
“It’s a national scandal that on the one hand, more and more people are struggling to pay their energy bills, while on the other, the Government thinks it’s perfectly OK to wait seven years before ensuring landlords bring their properties up to scratch.
“John Leech has championed efforts to tackle the dreadful problem of dangerously cold rented homes. We are very pleased that he chose to stand up for vulnerable local households and the environment instead of just toeing the party line.”
Notes to the Editor
 Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, part of a network of over 220 local Friends of the Earth groups. We raise awareness about environmental issues and lobby for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and our campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available at: https://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk.
 Friends of the Earth believes the environment is for everyone. We want a healthy planet and a good quality of life for all those who live on it. We inspire people to act together for a thriving environment. We campaign on a range of issues including climate change, biodiversity, waste, transport and food. For further information, visit http://www.foe.co.uk.
 The Report Stage and 3rd Reading of the Energy Bill took place in the House of Commons on Wednesday 14 September. For more information, see: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/energyhl.html
 The alliance comprised: 38 Degrees; All Party Parliamentary Fuel Poverty & Energy Efficiency Group; Age UK; Association for the Conservation of Energy; Blackpool Residents Federation; Brent Private Tenants’ Rights Group; Bristol Council; Camden Council; Camden Federation of Private Tenants; Centre for Sustainable Energy; Chartered Institute of Environmental Health; Child Poverty Action Group; Citizens Advice; Consumer Focus; Crisis; Disability Alliance; End Fuel Poverty Coalition; Federation of Private Residents Associations; Friends of the Earth; Housing Law Practitioners Association; Islington Council; Macmillan Cancer Support; Manchester City Council; National Childbirth Trust; National Energy Action; National Home Improvement Council; National Pensioners Convention; National Union of Students; North West Tenants & Residents Assembly; People & Planet; St Helens Community Empowerment Network; Scarborough Private Tenants Rights Group; Stop Climate Chaos; Town and Country Planning Association; UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy; UK Public Health Association; UNISON; WWF – UK.
As well as tabling amendments to the Energy Bill, John Leech tabled a parliamentary motion (Early Day Motion 653) calling for a minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes from 2016 which has been signed by 180 MPs.
There are 5.5 million households in the UK who live in fuel poverty ie they cannot afford to heat their home adequately.
There are 3.4 million homes in England rented from a landlord or letting agent, 15% of all homes. Almost 700,000 of these homes have the worst energy efficiency ratings (those rated ‘F’ and ‘G’ on a scale from A to G). According to Government figures, over 40% of the households living in these homes are in fuel poverty.
Research for Friends of the Earth found that improving the worst insulated rented homes would save on average £488 annually from the fuel bill for those homes. A national law to improve all F or G rated rented homes would lift at least 150,000 households out of fuel poverty according to watchdog, Consumer Focus.
Living in a cold home can have a negative impact of the health of babies, children, teenagers and the elder. According to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health it costs the NHS in the North West an estimated £10.5m annually to treat people made ill by living in a cold rented home.