NEA comment in response to BBC Panorama programme – Too Poor to Stay Warm
NEA is an independent charity working to protect low income and vulnerable households from fuel poverty and exclusion in the energy market.
BBC’s Panorama correctly highlights that it is completely unacceptable that in the 21st century people are still becoming ill and dying needlessly in the UK because they live in cold homes. We also know at least 4.5 million UK households are unable to adequately heat their homes and will be making difficult daily choices about how to keep themselves or families warm, pay down fuel debt, whether to heat just one room in their homes or even going without heating or power all winter. The programme rightly highlights that treating the health-related conditions this prompts is also placing a shocking strain on the public purse and costs the NHS £3.6million per day.
Following their recent recommendations within the energy market investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has rightly highlighted that energy is an essential service. They also correctly identified that many customers on prepayment can’t afford to pay up to £200 more a year than other customers. We therefore welcome the key recommendations that will help address this disadvantage and in particular the proposal for a transitional price control for prepayment customers. NEA is urging the Government and regulator to move quickly to implement these plans.
NEA also welcomes the UK Government’s commitment to ensure current and future energy policies are focused on low-income households that need the most support to reduce their energy costs. But it is clear we also need the Government to significantly increase investment in national programmes to help vulnerable and sick individuals improve insulation or fix their heating. Refocusing current resources on low-income households will help but ultimately existing national programmes remain inadequate to fulfill current government targets in England or support the other UK nations to eradicate fuel poverty.