Charity warns 2 million children left in the cold this winter and calls on Chancellor to provide urgent support

Warning issued on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day

National Energy Action (NEA) has issued new analysis highlighting an estimated 2 million children across England are living in cold homes this winter. NEA has issued the warning on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day and is calling on the Chancellor to use the forthcoming budget to help people across the UK who are unable to live in a warm and healthy home. The charity says the plight of young people is not being addressed fast enough and the charity is warning the impact on them accessing equal life chances is particularly stark.

Half a million dependent children live in the coldest homes with the worst energy efficiency rating meaning they are often almost impossible to heat. Fuel poverty often results in social isolation, which is a risk factor for depression. It also means families may need to choose between heating and spending on food – and as a result children can be malnourished. It even impacts on education; a study in Cornwall showed that children living in damp conditions lost 9.3 days per 100 school days because of asthma. This was reduced to 2.1 days after central heating was installed in their bedrooms. Despite the benefits, no public money is going to be spent this Parliament on improving energy efficiency levels in domestic properties in England – the only nation without a Government-funded energy efficiency programme for the first time in over 30 years, with delivery of home energy efficiency improvements slowing dramatically as a result.

Maria Wardrobe, Director of Communications and External Affairs at NEA said:

“The UK has among the highest rates of fuel poverty and one of the most energy inefficient housing stocks in Europe. It is completely unacceptable that in the 21st century children are living in cold, damp homes that are detrimental to their health and wellbeing. The Chancellor needs to use the forthcoming budget to improve the quality of their lives.

“There are few reasons to argue against acting fast to fix our housing stock. Targeted investment would make a massive difference to individuals but also reduce much bigger costs to society”.

The film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ shows a struggling single mum with two children in fuel poverty. BAFTA winning actor Dave Johns supports the campaign. He said: “I’m backing NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign to highlight what help is available to cope with rising energy bills as winter takes hold, and demand more support from government.”

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day will conclude the Warm Homes Campaign. On the launch of the WHC in November Channel 4 news illustrated the real impacts living in a cold home have on vulnerable people. NEA highlighted that based on current policies we will not see an end to the cold home crisis in the lifetime of a baby born today.

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is coordinated by NEA and many organisations are also holding events across the UK, issuing messages of support, or holding bake sales as part of the Nation’s Biggest Housewarming. People and organisations are also being asked to sign up to NEA’s Twitter Thunderclap, which will help ensure that Fuel Poverty Awareness Day reaches over 2 million people. NEA is also launching a range of new resources including a new Steps to Affordable Warmth video resource, which provides hints and tips on how to afford to stay warm and healthy at home and is designed to be shared at community events with clients or publicised online.

 

ENDS

Press contact: Sahdia Hassen on 0191 269 2936 or email sahdia.hassen@nea.org.uk

Notes for editors:

National Energy Action is the national fuel poverty charity, working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure everyone can afford to stay warm in their homes. For more information visit www.nea.org.uk

NEA’s top ten policy asks can be found here: http://www.nea.org.uk/campaigns-policy/nea-top-10-policy-priorities/#_ftn12

Latest government statistics indicate that there are over four million UK households in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of low incomes, high energy prices and poor quality energy-inefficient housing. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics

The number of children in fuel poverty is estimated from NEA analysis of the English Housing Survey (2014)

Fuel poverty statistics are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics

Excess winter deaths in England and Wales alone were an estimated 24,300 in 2015/16[i]. Over a five-year period, the average number of excess winter deaths in England and Wales is 28,218. Based on the World Health Organisation’s estimate that a minimum of 30% of Excess Winter Deaths are due to people living in cold homes, an average of over 8,000 people die each winter because they cannot be kept warm at a reasonable cost[ii].

View the Channel 4 new article here.

The Committee on Fuel Poverty (CFP) has estimated the overall cost of meeting national fuel poverty commitments in England. Overall, an investment of £20bn is required to get all (current) fuel poor homes in England to at least an EPC C by 2030[iii].

According to the Committee on Fuel Poverty[iv], the Climate Change Committee (CCC)[v] and think tanks such as Policy Exchange[vi] current resources are less than half of what is required to meet these commitments.

This lack of public funding is in spite of domestic energy consumers predicted to contribute an estimated £14 billion to the Treasury[vii] this Parliament, £30 billion over 10 years[viii].

Just before the last General Election the Treasury raised an additional £500 million pounds creating higher energy bills[ix] and dramatically impacting low income consumers’ ability to heat and power their homes and their life chances. These funds can be used to invest in improving national competitiveness by reducing energy demand – many other EU governments[x] channel many of these resources back to consumers, future-proofing their economies and helping to improve national competitiveness by reducing energy demand.

End Notes:

[i] Office of National Statistics, Excess winter mortality in England and Wales: 2015/16 (provisional) and 2014/15 (final) (ons.gov.uk)

[ii] Further analysis on excess winter deaths are attributable to cold indoor temperatures was carried out by Sir John Marmot for Friends of the Earth : The Health Impacts of Cold Homes and Fuel Poverty, Marmot Review Team, 2011.

[iii] This breakdowns as £1.9bn to meet the 2020 EPC E milestone, a further £5.6bn to meet the 2025 EPC D milestone and a further £12.3bn to meet the 2030 EPC C target. A further £6bn would be required to ensure all low income households (not just those that are currently fuel poor) are brought up to EPC band C by 2025. This investment does not fall to central Government solely; it must be defrayed across a number of parties (central government, private and social landlords; LAs, utility companies, escos, gas and electricity network operators as well as other key actors such health agencies, charities and community groups.

[iv] This breakdowns as £1.9bn to meet the 2020 EPC E milestone, a further £5.6bn to meet the 2025 EPC D milestone and a further £12.3bn to meet the 2030 EPC C target.

[v] Addressing fuel poverty and meeting carbon budgets go hand in hand (CCC), 7 October 2014.

[vi] Warmer Homes – Improving fuel poverty and energy efficiency policy in the UK, 2015, Policy Exchange

[vii] We estimate that £11.82bn will be collected in England, £1.33bn in Scotland, £690m in Wales and £190m in Northern Ireland

[viii] This analysis of the revenues the Treasury receives from domestic consumers is based on Government sources to estimate how much expected revenue they will receive from a) the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS), b) the Carbon Price Floor (CPF) and c) VAT on an average electricity bill. We have then combined this with expected VAT revenues from domestic gas bills. These estimates are all based on the Government’s own assumptions regarding energy consumption and this includes an unfounded assumption that EU products policy will increase the domestic energy efficiency of electric appliances substantially

[ix] This figure is the estimated income from the Carbon Price Floor 2015-16 compared to 2014-15. Source: Carbon Price Floor, 14 May 2014, House of Commons Library

[x] According to a recent report: The economic case for recycling carbon tax revenues into energy efficiency, Prashant Vaze and Louise Sunderland, February 2014: 13 countries in the EU have pledged to return part of the proceeds from the EU-ETS auctions to climate and energy efficiency programmes.

[iv] This breakdowns as £1.9bn to meet the 2020 EPC E milestone, a further £5.6bn to meet the 2025 EPC D milestone and a further £12.3bn to meet the 2030 EPC C target.

[v] Addressing fuel poverty and meeting carbon budgets go hand in hand (CCC), 7 October 2014.

[vi] Warmer Homes – Improving fuel poverty and energy efficiency policy in the UK, 2015, Policy Exchange

[vii] We estimate that £11.82bn will be collected in England, £1.33bn in Scotland, £690m in Wales and £190m in Northern Ireland

[viii] This analysis of the revenues the Treasury receives from domestic consumers is based on Government sources to estimate how much expected revenue they will receive from a) the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS), b) the Carbon Price Floor (CPF) and c) VAT on an average electricity bill. We have then combined this with expected VAT revenues from domestic gas bills. These estimates are all based on the Government’s own assumptions regarding energy consumption and this includes an unfounded assumption that EU products policy will increase the domestic energy efficiency of electric appliances substantially

[ix] This figure is the estimated income from the Carbon Price Floor 2015-16 compared to 2014-15. Source: Carbon Price Floor, 14 May 2014, House of Commons Library

[x] According to a recent report: The economic case for recycling carbon tax revenues into energy efficiency, Prashant Vaze and Louise Sunderland, February 2014: 13 countries in the EU have pledged to return part of the proceeds from the EU-ETS auctions to climate and energy efficiency programmes.

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