Chancellor announces cuts to energy efficiency despite highest excess winter mortality for 15 years

Issued: 25 November 2015

Today the Chancellor announced that there will be deep cuts to the only GB-wide energy efficiency programme despite the ONS also reporting the highest number of Excess Winter Mortality for 15 years. Commenting on the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) National Energy Action (NEA) says the tax payer could be left bearing a staggering bill to treat cold related illnesses for years to come.

Peter Smith, Head of Policy at National Energy Action comments: “Energy efficiency can reduce energy bills and keep vulnerable people out of hospital. Instead of adequately investing in upgrading Britain’s coldest homes, the Chancellor has announced there will be deep cuts to the only GB-wide energy efficiency programme from 2017. This is despite the ONS publishing the highest number of excess winter deaths across England and Wales for 15 years.

Whilst the new energy efficiency policy is likely to be better targeted and despite extending energy discounts, we estimate the UK government could miss the fuel poverty target in England by 80 years. This decision could lead to the NHS having to spend in excess of £22bn to treat cold related illnesses over the next 15 years. This government must use the UK public infrastructure budget and invest in initiatives to make homes warmer, healthier and encourage economic growth”.

ENDS

Notes for Editors

  1. National Energy Action (NEA) is the leading fuel poverty charity. For further information visit www.nea.org.uk.
  2. There were 43,900 excess winter deaths (EWD) in England and Wales in 2014/15. The World Health Organisation attributes at least 30% of all EWD to vulnerable people living in a cold home. The ONS excess winter mortality in England and Wales figures for 2014/15 can be found on the ONS website.
  3. The Spending Review and Autumn Statement can be found on the Gov.uk website.
  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.
  5. The government has set a fuel poverty target to improve the energy efficiency of fuel poor homes, by getting as many households as reasonably practicable to a minimum standard of band C by 2030 (with interim targets of band E and band D by 2020 and 2025). Only 5% of current fuel poor households in England live in the most energy efficient properties (Band C or above) – This leaves 2.18m fuel poor households below band C. Only circa. 23,000 fuel poor households are currently brought up to band C per year and so we estimate it will take circa. 95 years to bring all (current) fuel poor households up to band C and so the government could miss their target by 80 years. In addition, based on current delivery rates, NEA estimate it will take 32 years for all (current) fuel poor households to receive cavity wall insulation; 19 years for all (current) fuel poor households to receive roof insulation; 21 years for all (current) fuel poor households to receive condensing boilers; 25 years for all (current) fuel poor households to receive central heating system and 237 years for all (current) fuel poor households to receive solid wall insulation.
  6. According to research undertaken in support of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign; 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. 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.
  7. The figures were released as part of NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign. For further information go to http://www.nea.org.uk/campaigns-policy/warm-homes-campaign/.
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