Issued By
 Northumberland Trading
Standards Service

Fuel Poverty and Fuels delivered to your door- Northumberland Trading Standards and the North East Trading Standards Authorities Group (NETSA) acts to help.

 

Currently, you are defined as being in fuel poverty, if more than 20% of your income is spent on fuel to heat and light your home. An initiative by the Warmzone organisation is currently evaluating the problem - but it is clear that value for Money is important to any user of these products.

The Trading Standards Service has, for a long time, had responsibility for fair and honest trading and a specific aim has been to enforce an honest system of weighing and measuring for trading purposes. It therefore decided to focus on delivered and “off the shelf” heating fuels, most of which rely on a form of measurement to decide how much the fuel costs to the user.

Says County Trading Standards Officer, Michael King - “fuel to heat the home takes up a large proportion of the income of many families who are on a tight budget; it is our aim to ensure that you get what you have paid for, and in terms of fuel, a fair price for a correct amount. The Weights and Measures Act and the Trade Descriptions Act have been our tool for many years to ensure this is what happens, but how many customers actually are aware of the protection they have under the law? The project aims to provide customers with the information in simple terms they so they can ensure they get value for money, to provide answers to where to go if something is wrong, and to provide access to information for honest traders who want to make sure they are doing it right as well.”

The fuels concerned are - coal and solid fuel, wood fuel, liquid petroleum gas in both bulk and bottled form, heating oil and paraffin.

Council Spokesperson Peter Hillman added “ the County Council is dedicated to providing assistance and protection through our services to all our residents. We hope to achieve greater public awareness of their rights and by providing easy access to this information we aim to contribute to a more inclusive society. The idea is to work together with the reputable suppliers to promote fair trading and identify those who wish to gain an unfair advantage and deal with them accordingly”.

Several Trade bodies representing suppliers have expressed support and some already provide their own information leaflets, often, crucially, about the safe use of appliances burning the fuels, to consumers and traders - information on how to obtain these is provided as well.

The Department has the guidance notes on its website for free downloading, providing links to other organisations and will provide copies to any resident of Northumberland or Trader selling in the County who requests it. Officers will respond to questions and clarify any points of law to traders who wish to know more.

The Department can be contacted at Loansdean, Morpeth, NE61 2ED, on 01670 534585, by fax at 01670 534590, by E_Mail at tradingstandards@northumberland.gov.uk and viewed online at www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/northumberland/