‘I, Daniel Blake’ lead actor Dave Johns backs national campaign

Warm Homes Campaign: 29 November 2016 – 17 February 2017

Embargo:  00:01, 29/11/2016

National Energy Action’s (NEA) vision is that ‘no one is living in fuel poverty’ but today the charity warns, that at the current level of delivery and funding this won’t happen in the average lifetime of a baby born today.

Without urgent action she could suffer a number of significant health problems as she grows up.

NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign highlights that around four million UK households are still unable to access equal life chances because they live in a cold, damp home. These life chances are further compromised depending on the tenure of the home our baby will be born into.

New research by NEA shows that energy efficiency problems such as damp and unhealthily low temperatures are more prevalent in privately rented homes such as shared properties, bedsits and hostels. In a recent survey over two thirds said residents cannot afford to heat their room or shared space adequately. A similar number said the worst rental properties have such inadequate heating and insulation that it is impossible to keep them warm and free from damp.

Jenny Saunders OBE, Chief Executive of National Energy Action (NEA) commented:

We need to see much more ambition from national and local government if we are to end the unnecessary cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty.”

Actor Dave Johns, who plays the lead in ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is backing the campaign. He added:

It is a complete scandal that people die because they can’t afford to heat their homes. ‘I, Daniel Blake’ shows the tragic circumstances and daily dilemma of ‘heating or eating’ faced by many thousands of people in Britain today. 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.”

The charity is warning that a baby born today and living in cold housing is more than twice as likely to suffer from breathing problems including asthma and bronchitis and three times as likely to suffer from wheezing and respiratory illness. As she grows up in the same housing conditions her chances of suffering mental health problems are higher  – one in four adolescents living in a cold home are at risk of multiple mental health problems and evidence proves that living in fuel poverty impacts on educational attainment.

By the age of 40 she is more likely to have suffered anxiety caused by worry over fuel bills or falling into debt and a number of health concerns such as cardiovascular problems will be aggravated. In later life, conditions such as arthritis will be worsened and she will have an increased risk of accidents, injuries, and falls in the home.

Jenny Saunders continued: “The Government has a statutory target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2030 but current progress would indicate that this target still won’t be met as our baby reaches her 80th birthday. This assumes of course that she has not already died needlessly of the cold. According to BBC’s Panorama programme (referring to a University College London study) this was not the coldest winter on record. However it found that people dying from cold homes are a result of high fuel prices, low incomes and poor insulation – and argue it’s entirely preventable.

There are excellent examples of good practice locally that demonstrate how health and wellbeing boards and local authorities are tackling the health inequalities of living in cold homes. These have included Blackburn with Darwen; Brighton & Hove; Cornwall; Dorset; Durham; the Isles of Scilly; North Yorkshire; Salford; Solihull; South Tyneside; Stockton-on-Tees; Surrey and Sutton, which are top rated in our recent ‘Get Warm Soon‘ report. These examples must be replicated in all parts of the country to facilitate action to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable.

As well as continuing to tackle exclusion in the energy market, the answer lies in increasing investment in domestic energy efficiency. We need to follow the example of other developed countries and be driving massive permanent reduction in total energy demand across the UK. The UK Government must also mobilise all relevant departments to deliver the current fuel poverty strategy and improve conditions in the private rented sector urgently. Currently thousands of landlords are making huge amounts of money from their tenants’ housing benefit but continuing to rent out potentially life-damaging homes.”

We can all play a part in trying to be more energy efficient, for more information on what you can do visit: www.nea.org.uk/advice


For more information contact:  Sahdia Hassen, Communications Officer, on 0191 269 2936 (office), or Peter Smith, Director of Policy and Research on 0759 578 0893 or Maria Wardrobe, Director of Communications and External affairs on 0794 961 5807 (out of hours).

Please note that Dave Johns is currently not available for interview due to filming commitments.

Notes to editors –

  1. NEA is an independent charity working to protect low-income and vulnerable households from fuel poverty and exclusion in the energy market. NEA has a network of offices throughout England and also has national offices in Cardiff and Belfast which also work to support deprived communities and low-income energy consumers in Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
  2. NEA’s key policy priorities can be found here.
  3. NEA’s Get Warm Soon Report is available here.
  4. NEA works to influence and increase strategic action against fuel poverty at a national level through its policy, research and campaigning functions. The charity similarly works with partners from industry, government and the third sector to deliver practical solutions to UK households – improving access to energy advice, energy efficiency products and other related services for vulnerable consumers. NEA believes that radically improving the fabric and heating of homes represents the most cost effective long-term solution for tackling high energy bills and helping to eradicate fuel poverty. NEA also provide the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Fuel Poverty & Energy Efficiency Group, which was first established in 1995 as the Parliamentary Warm Homes Group, to raise awareness of the problem of fuel poverty and the policies needed to eradicate it.
  5. Since 2011 there is no longer a common approach to the way fuel poverty is measured across the UK nations. Following Professor Hills’ recommendations the Low Income High Cost (LIHC) indicator definition is now used in England. This states that an individual is considered fuel poor where they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level) and were they to spend that amount; they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line. The low income high cost measure consists of two parts, the number of households that have both low incomes and high fuel costs and the depth of fuel poverty amongst these households. Prior to the introduction of the Low Income High Costs indicator in England, fuel poverty was measured under the 10 per cent indicator across the whole of the UK. The 10 per cent indicator continues to be used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Under this indicator, a household is considered to be fuel poor if they were required to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel to maintain an adequate standard of warmth. An adequate standard of warmth is usually defined as 21ºC for the main living area, and 18ºC for other occupied rooms.
  6. The UK fuel poverty figures in this press release relate to 10% definition published by DECC June 2016. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics  Scottish figures relate to 10% definition 2014, published by the Scottish Government December 2015. Available at:  http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Housing-Regeneration/TrendFuelPoverty Welsh figures are projected for 10% definition 2016, published by the Welsh Government 2016. Available at:  http://gov.wales/topics/environmentcountryside/energy/fuelpoverty/?lang=en . Northern Irish figures relate to 10% definition 2011, published by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive 2014. Available at:  http://www.nihe.gov.uk/northern_ireland_house_condition_survey_main_report_2011.pdf
  7. Reference and useful links:

Fuel Poverty and Houses in Multiple Occupation: Practitioners’ Views’ produced for the Department of Energy and Climate Change by National Energy Action working with Future Climate.

BBC Panorama, Too Poor to Stay Warm (21 March 2016). Available at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0756g0x & http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35862763

Association for the Conservation of Energy (March 2015) Chilled to Death: The Human Cost of Cold Homes, page 2 http://www.ukace.org/2015/03/chilled-to-death-the-human-cost-of-cold-homes/

ONS, Excess Winter Mortality in England and Wales: 2014/15, Excess winter mortality (EWM) trends in England and Wales. Available at: http://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/excesswintermortalityinenglandandwales/201415provisionaland201314final

Marmot Review Team (2011) The Health Impacts of Cold Homes and Fuel Poverty. Friends of the Earth and the Marmot Review Team, London. Available at: http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/projects/the-health-impacts-of-cold-homes-and-fuel-poverty.

NEA (2013) The Many Faces of Fuel Poverty. Page 5. http://www.nea.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Many-Faces-of-Fuel-Poverty-low-res.pdf

NEA (2016) Cold homes claiming needless lives and costing every local Health and Wellbeing Board in England over £27,000 each day. Available at: http://www.nea.org.uk/media/news/260216-01/

Christians Against Poverty (2015) The poor pay more: Prepayment meters and self-disconnection. Available at: https://capuk.org/downloads/policy_and_government/poor-pay-more-2015.pdf

Policy Exchange (2015) Warmer Homes: Improving fuel poverty and energy efficiency policy in the UK.  Available at: https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/warmer-homes.pdf

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