A blog by Adam Scorer
What a time to hold a fuel poverty conference.
The energy crisis of the last few days has shown us that the most vulnerable households remain critically exposed to the shocks of wider energy markets. We head into the most difficult time of year for home heating, with households facing a toxic combination of reduced incomes and higher energy bills.
All of this serves as a pertinent backdrop as we approach our annual Warm Homes Week, starting on Monday 27 September. Last year’s proved a huge success. We ran 17 live sessions, providing 23 hours of live content with 46 contributors. 649 organisations in total were represented through 1150 unique registrations and 2689 in total across all sessions.
We’re really excited to be able to welcome you all virtually to this year’s Warm Homes Week. I’ll be opening the conference on Monday morning to highlight the key challenges facing fuel poor households this winter, as well as explaining the focuses and hopes for the week.
Our immediate focus for the conference is this coming winter. Too many vulnerable people across the UK are still at risk of dying in the colder months. Over the last five winters the number of UK excess winter deaths due to a cold home is approximately 10,000 per year. Cold homes also impact on health services, costing the NHS and social health services more than £2bn every year, in England alone.
In addition to that, we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The poorest 20% of household are saving less, often leaving them drowning in debt. The ending of the furlough scheme and the expected removal of the universal credit uplift takes away vital support and protection from already struggling households.
A key focus for Warm Homes Week will be to consider how fuel poverty and the UK’s pressing Net Zero agenda will interact. It comes ahead of a critical time for the UK’s decarbonisation efforts. The UK is set to take the world stage at the COP26 climate conference in November to negotiate a crucial deal with global powers to set establish a positive way forward, as well as demonstrate what we as a country are doing to play our part. Energy policy and the costs to consumers are high on the government’s agenda, and we are delighted to have BEIS Minister Lord Callanan addressing the conference on Tuesday.
Fuel poverty and Net Zero can and must be tackled together. Decarbonisation offers huge opportunities to help the vulnerable. Redoubling efforts to increase the energy efficiency of our homes will cut emissions as well as bills. In one of our sessions, we consider why this could be a decade of delivery and where the opportunities and challenges lie for changing the way homes are heated.
We will be running four morning webinars with plenary sessions followed by fringe and spotlight sessions in the afternoons across the week. Take a look at what’s on offer and there’s still time to register by clicking here.