The need to put an end to the cost and suffering of living in a cold home
22 July 2015
Independent experts have highlighted living in a cold home is currently a bigger killer across the UK than road accidents, alcohol or drug abuse combined[i].
Over the term of the last UK parliament alone NEA estimates that there were over 41,000 needless deaths across the UK directly attributable to vulnerable households inhabiting cold homes. We also believe the cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty is likely to significantly increase in the future without adequate national and UK responses. For example, in our recent UK Fuel Poverty Monitor 2014-2015 we estimated that from 2015 to 2030 over 125,000 vulnerable people across the UK may die needlessly directly due to living in a cold home[ii]. Furthermore, we estimated that national health services across the UK nations could need to spend billions treating cold-related morbidity, in excess of £22 billion in England and Wales alone over the same 15 year period[iii]. We stress that no government or parliament should accept this level of suffering and unnecessary cost and below we highlight the urgent actions necessary to make progress this parliament.
Summary of priorities
- Use public funds to provide an adequate and additional funding stream that will radically improve the energy efficiency of 2 million low-income homes by 2020 and end the suffering caused by fuel poverty within 10 years.
- Continue income supplements and energy bill rebates for economically inactive households and expand them for the poorest working households.
- Ensure all domestic energy schemes are better targeted at those households that need the most support to reduce their energy bills, increase comfort, and save carbon. This includes re targeting the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to provide enhanced access and guaranteed assistance for the most vulnerable households whose health is most affected by living in a cold home.
- Help manage the transition away from an over-reliance on supplier-led delivery by encouraging a sustainable contribution from other local actors. Key to delivering this approach is ensuring all local authorities in England and Wales actively fulfil their current or planned duties in relation to housing standards.
- Reinvestigate the case for an extra help scheme to support vulnerable households during the GB smart meter roll-out.
Please read our full briefing to the Energy and Climate Change Committee ‘s inquiry into »DECC Priorities 2015 here.