NEA highlights chilling shortfall of help for poorer energy consumers and need for action in the comprehensive spending review

 THE COLD HOMES CRISIS – CAN WE AFFORD TO WAIT?

Cold homes are currently a bigger killer across the UK than road accidents, alcohol or drug abuse

 Date: 5 November 2015

Fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action (NEA), has today warned that all measures to help poorer households will shortly expire. They have called on the UK government to respond to feedback from a recent poll of those at the sharp end of this issue which shows 93% are not confident that there are sufficient resources to help fuel poor households as required by new statutory targets. 82% say that most low income vulnerable households may receive little or no assistance from current policies despite being eligible for help. The warning comes as NEA launches the Warm Homes Campaign today.

Chief executive of NEA, Jenny Saunders OBE, comments:

NEA is urging policy makers to set out clearly how they will adequately resource initiatives that make homes warmer and healthier and in turn encourage economic growth. Specifically, we have today outlined the key areas the UK government must prioritise within the upcoming comprehensive spending review.

We want the next supplier obligation to mark an ambitious commitment to reduce fuel poverty across Great Britain and for the UK government to also secure non-departmental capital infrastructure funds to deliver energy efficiency improvements through local partners. The impact of these programmes will not be immediate so we are also urging the government to continue and expand the Warm Home Discount scheme.

Through a range of activities with our supporters and other partners we hope this campaign will demonstrate that by investing in warmth and upgrading Britain’s coldest homes it is possible to improve millions of people’s lives while boosting the economy and creating local jobs”.

For case studies, interview requests and general enquiries relating to the campaign please contact Claire Henderson on 0191 269 2909. For further information on NEA’s key corporate comprehensive spending review asks, please read the Warm Homes Campaign policy briefing and email Peter Smith or call 07595780893.

ENDS

EDITOR’S NOTES

    1. National Energy Action (NEA) is the leading fuel poverty charity. For further information visit nea.org.uk.
    2. The Warm Homes Campaign, coordinated by NEA is a national campaign aimed at raising awareness of the problem of fuel poverty and the solutions available for those struggling to heat their homes affordably. The 2015 Campaign launches on 5 November 2015 and will continue to run throughout the winter ending on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on 26 February 2016.
    3. Throughout the campaign, a number of events will be organised to demonstrate the work that is being done at a local level to tackle fuel poverty. NEA members, stakeholders, MPs and other politicians, and members of the public will be asked to help highlight the issues. Follow us at @NEA_UKCharity.
    4. There are 4.5 million low income households across the UK whose health and wellbeing is being severely affected as they struggle to afford the energy they need. NEA has estimated that by 2030 over 125,000 vulnerable people across the UK could die needlessly due to living in a cold home. Furthermore, national health services could spend billions treating cold-related morbidity, in excess of £22bn in England and Wales alone over the same 15 year period. However, current resources to tackle the problem are less than half of what is required to meet new fuel poverty targets.
    5. NEA received over 70 responses to an online questionnaire from a range of agencies at the sharp end of this issue (generators, supply chain companies, charities, local authorities etc.) who were asked non-leading questions on current ECO delivery. 93% of their supporters were not confident that there were sufficient resources under ECO to deliver measures to fuel poor households as required by statutory targets across Great Britain and 82% were not confident that ECO provides sufficient access for low income vulnerable households that may be eligible for help but still receive little or no assistance from the current policy.
    6. Health impacts caused by cold homes predominantly relate to cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Low temperatures also diminish resistance to infection and encourage damp and mould growth in the home. Cold indoor conditions have also been linked to poor mental health resulting from anxiety and stress. Social isolation can be exacerbated where the home does not present a welcoming environment and there is evidence that cold homes can reduce educational attainment. Advice and support and practical heating and insulation improvements can help address all of these problems.
    7. The recognised benefits of acting to end fuel poverty in a local area include: reductions in bills and energy arrears which can increase spending within poorer communities; better living conditions and significant positive direct impacts on public health and fewer premature winter deaths; reductions in bills can lead to less stress and better mental health for occupants; local employment from a more buoyant energy efficiency industry will create more demand for local low and medium skilled labour and better local air quality.
    8. Adequate investment in domestic energy efficiency nationally can return over £3 returned to the economy per £1 invested by central government; help create a 26% reduction in imports of natural gas in 2030, worth £2.7bn in that year; domestic consumers could save over £8 billion per annum in total energy bill savings; increase relative GDP by 0.6% by 2030; increase employment by up to 108,000 net jobs and help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 23.6MtCO2 reductions per annum by 2030, after accounting for rebound effects.
    9. The Warm Homes Campaign Awards will run alongside the Warm Homes Campaign and provide grants of £500 to enable 40 not-for-profit and statutory organisations based in England and Wales with the funds needed to support relevant events and activities taking place during the campaign period. For further information click here.
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