Warm and Safe Homes

In any normal winter millions of people struggle to stay warm at home. Rising energy costs, low incomes and energy inefficient homes converge to leave them in desperate situations where they can no longer afford to heat their homes, feed their families and pay their rent.

Those affected cope as best they can – by cutting back on essentials, rationing energy use, and taking respite in other warm places. But even then it isn’t always enough. 10,000 people die on average in the UK each year because of health conditions caused or worsened by living in a cold home, and fuel poverty is a known risk factor for suicide.

This is not a normal winter. Covid-19 is combining with cold homes to accelerate and multiply these issues. The doors of warm sanctuaries, such as libraries, cafes and the homes of loved ones, are shut. People are compelled to spend more time in homes that they can’t afford to heat, causing some of the very health issues that will put them most at risk. Beyond the direct overlap between acute respiratory conditions and cold homes, the virus can thrive in unhygienic conditions when people are forced to use cold water to wash themselves or their clothes, or have the whole family crowd into the only heated space in the house. The strain on mental health is unimaginable.

Cold homes are preventable, and policy interventions to make fuel poor homes easier and cheaper to heat are on the horizon, but these will offer little respite for those struggling now.

National Energy Action (NEA) is the national charity with a vision to end the suffering caused by cold homes. During our Warm and Safe Homes Campaign we are urging three actions which will make a difference to people in fuel poverty this winter:

Ensuring enough money for essentials

The current universal credit uplift, which is offering a lifeline to millions by providing extra money for living essentials, must be maintained and strengthened.

Bringing forward Breathing Space and new actions to clear debt:

Halting  enforcement action, providing flexibility on repayment plans and introducing new ways to help people with utility debts  will help reduce the additional stress caused by falling into household debt and have a positive economic impact.

A proactive, coordinated and targeted response from frontline agencies:

Those most in need are not necessarily aware of or able to access the support that is available, particularly if they are digitally excluded, English is not their preferred language or they have other communication needs. National and local government, energy suppliers, network operators, health agencies and other frontline organisations need to proactively identify and assist these customers and clients.

How to get involved

You can support us on the day by:

Writing to your local Member of Parliament (UK), Member of the Senedd (Wales), or Member of the Legislative Assembly (NI) to ask them to support the campaign and share details of any work you may be undertaking locally to help people in fuel poverty. A template letter is included in our resource pack.

Committing to supporting people in fuel poverty this winter and sharing this commitment and any action taken on our social media channels.

Sharing a video or other message of support with us on our social media channels.

Using #WarmSafeHomes so we can share your posts more widely and help demonstrate the work that is being done to support vulnerable energy customers this winter.

Our Twitter handles are @NEA_UKCharity, @NEA_NIreland and @NEA_Cymru. You can also find us on Facebook as National Energy Action and National Energy Action NI


For help using the resources contact michael.Potter@nea.org.uk

For media enquiries contact Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns on 07884371913 / sarah.wright@nea.org.uk