Organisations call for an end to Wales’ cold homes crisis

Issued: 26 November 2015

Leading organisations from across Wales are today calling on the next Welsh Government to put an end to the cold homes crisis in Wales.

Members of the Fuel Poverty Coalition in Wales, who want to see an end to people struggling to afford their energy bills, have outlined 5 key priorities for action which they want the next Welsh Government to address.

wales fuel poverty coalitionOne of the key priorities includes investing in preventative measures which will ease the burden on overstretched NHS resources.  The coalition estimate that the cost to the Welsh NHS for treating cold related hospital admissions amounts to over £100m a year with the cost likely to increase in the future.  They also want to see increased investment to improve the energy efficiency of homes in Wales.

The priorities outlined in the Coalition’s Manifesto entitled ‘Ending Wales’ Cold Homes Crisis’ include:

  • Setting a new fuel poverty target to improve homes to a minimum energy efficiency standard of EPC C, backed up with the data we need to drive an ambitious new strategy
  • Invest in a well-resourced, well-targeted energy efficiency programme for fuel poor households in Wales as an infrastructure priority
  • Save lives by implementing the NICE guidelines on tackling excess winter deaths
  • Protect vulnerable households with a crisis fund for emergency heating when their health is at risk
  • Fund independent advice services to support people in fuel poverty

Carole Morgan-Jones, Director, NEA Cymru: “The latest figures on the number of excess winter deaths in Wales for 2014-15 are truly shocking.  It is estimated that 30% of these deaths can be attributable to cold homes which means 780 needless deaths in Wales during 2014-15.  This should be unacceptable to all political parties.

“With energy bills now unaffordable for 1 in 3 Welsh households, an incoming new Government should not accept this level of suffering and unnecessary cost and must respond to the challenge by taking the urgent action identified in our Manifesto.”

Andrew Regan, Policy Officer Wales, Citizens Advice: “Citizens Advice Cymru deals with too many clients whose financial situation means they put off switching the heating on for as long as they can, and their health suffers as a result.

“The worst part of it is that this situation is totally avoidable. We can make people’s homes warmer, we just need the political will to do so. The next Welsh Government should make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority. People would be warmer and healthier, and the NHS would reap the financial benefits.”

Graeme Francis, Head of Policy, Age Cymru: “This shocking rise in winter deaths among older people – the highest this century, sends a clear message about the importance of protecting people’s health during the winter.

“We need to urgently improve the quality of our housing, much of which is completely inadequate to protect people against the cold, damp weather which can be lethal to people whose health is already compromised.

“It is also vital that as many people as possible receive the seasonal ‘flu jab. If you are 65 or over, you should have a ‘flu jab every year because the ‘flu virus changes regularly and immunity wanes.”

Steve Woosey, Operations Manager, North Wales Energy Advice Centre: “The excess winter deaths due to cold homes is only the morbid tip of an iceberg of cold homes that are unaffordable to heat, often damp and affecting the health of the householders. It’s a tragedy that in 2015, when we have the means to deal with this, that people are condemned to live under such unsuitable conditions.”

The Manifesto can be downloaded here.

Notes to Editors:  

  1. For further information please contact Carole Morgan-Jones, Director, NEA Cymru, tel 02920 229322 or email morgan-jones@nea.org.uk
  2. The Fuel Poverty Coalition is led by NEA Cymru and Citizens Advice and supported by a steering group made up of a range of key organisations working to take forward the fuel poverty agenda in Wales including Age Cymru, Care & Repair Cymru, Community Housing Cymru, Children in Wales, Friends of the Earth Cymru, Oxfam Cymru, Shelter Cymru, Disability Wales, Cynnal Cymru North Wales Energy Advice Centre and Warm Wales.
  3. Fuel poverty is defined as the need to spend over 10% of household income on fuel costs to maintain adequate warmth for health and comfort. Almost 1 in 3 (30%) of households in Wales were living in fuel poverty in 2012, equating to 386,000 homes.  328,000 of these are believed to be vulnerable households (containing a child, older person, or someone who is disabled or has a long term illness).  http://wales.gov.uk/docs/caecd/research/130430-wales-fuel-poverty-projection-tool-2011-12-report-en.pdf
  4. Fuel poverty results from a combination of factors: low household income; unaffordable energy prices; and inadequate heating and insulation standards. The consequences of fuel poverty range from psychological distress, social isolation and physical discomfort to causing or exacerbating serious illness and, in the most extreme cases, to premature death.
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