Winter is just around the corner and four million people in Spain fear the arrival of winter, because they must choose between keeping their house warm or pay other bills, money is not enough. However, energy poverty is becoming a priority for the new local and regional Governments, with Madrid being the most active.
Madrid City Council has announced that it will take up to two unpaid water, gas or electricity bills to avoid supply cuts to the most vulnerable households in the capital. It is negotiating the signing of some agreements with utilities that enable to carry out a measure which would give immediate rise to the application of the social bond to the families affected.
In fact, the Councillor for Equality, Employment and Social Rights, Marta Higueras, has gone beyond claiming ” the current social bond is not really reaching the population in need. Therefore we have asked the Minister of Industry that the Social Services of the City, be who determine which the “vulnerable households” are “.
In the city of Madrid, last year 1,141 households applied for help to pay their energy bills but there may be many more who did not go to social services.
For its part, the regional president, Cristina Cifuentes, has also met with the Minister of Industry to propose creating a solidarity fund to guarantee electricity and heating for families who can not cope with the payment. The contributions to this pool would correspond to the Community of Madrid, municipalities and companies in the energy sector.
“A change, a before and after is evident in the new organs of government, especially in those where social movements are very present,” explained to EnergyNews Cote Romero, state coordinator of the Platform for a New Energy Model, one of the most active in denouncing this social drama, “We are delighted that proposals to address this problem are made. For us the goal is to completely eradicate energy poverty, although we understand that first you have to take urgent measures, such as to ensure that the water and energy supply are not cut to the most vulnerable groups, but then you have to take structural measures, many of them have to do with the poor quality of housing, therefore, it is necessary to channel Energy Efficiency Funds to improve building, and a political culture based on consuming well and opting for renewables “.
Elsewhere in Spain
This concern also extends to other regions. It is the case of Asturias, which has approved a budget of 474,725 euro directed to municipalities to combat fuel poverty in each of the council’s most needed households, with some 1,583 families benefiting from this measure that will continue for the coming years. In fact, the government forecast is that next year it will be able to cover 4,000 families during the seven coldest months of the year.
In Extremadura, the President of the Local Government, Guillermo Fernandez Vara, has announced that “he will look for” one million euro in this year’s budget to be allocated to “combat energy poverty” of Extremadura’s families with lowest incomes this winter, so they can cover some minimum energy and water needs.
Valencia, meanwhile, has signed a collaboration agreement with the Red Cross to assist in the management of financial assistance to combat energy poverty. The economic aid is intended for families with children and who have a total income of the family unit not exceeding the public income indicator of multiple effects (IPREM), established in 532 euros / month. So, this year a total of 1 million euro will be allocated to this measure.
Finally, the Government of Cordoba has approved an amendment to the Provincial Social Welfare Institute (IPBSI) budget for the implementation of a comprehensive program of family intervention in fuel poverty situation, worth 380,000 euros budget. The aid will range from 2,400 to 14,000 euros, depending on the number of unemployed in each municipality and the number of inhabitants and may not exceed 600 euros per household, and will be based on a prior report by social workers.