One of the issues we’re highlighting through our Warm Homes Campaign (Nov-17 Feb 2017) is the link between fuel poverty and ill health, but although our vision is that ‘no one is living in fuel poverty’ – this won’t happen within the lifetime of a baby born today.
Without urgent action she could suffer a number of health problems as she grows up. This is a significant problem because around four million UK households are still unable to access equal life chances as they live in a cold, damp home.
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.
As she grows older 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.
A few months ago BBC’s Panorama programme explained that although last year was not the coldest winter on record, many people died. It found that people dying from cold homes are a result of high fuel prices, low incomes and poor insulation. This is entirely preventable - and together we can help make it happen.
Increasing investment by local and national government is crucial. There are some great examples of good practice – with some councils prioritising and tackling fuel poverty head on. For example Salford Council is working hard against fuel poverty which affected 25% of residents in 2010. In the past few years they’ve delivered over £15 million worth of energy improvements through their Getting Homes Warmer project, and are rated as one of the best performing councils in our Get Warm Soon report. But we need to see much more ambition from many other local authorities and national government if we are to end the unnecessary cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty.
Landlords ensuring that they provide adequate heating and insulation can make a big impact – because energy efficiency problems such as damp and unhealthily low temperatures are worse in shared privately rented homes such as shared properties, bedsits and hostels.
Everyone can play a part in energy efficiency – for tips visit our website at http://www.nea.org.uk/advice/
National Energy Action is a charity working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and with sister charity Energy Action Scotland, to ensure that everyone can afford to live in a warm, dry home. In partnership with central and local government, fuel utilities, housing providers, consumer groups and voluntary organisations, NEA undertake a range of activities to address the causes and treat the symptoms of fuel poverty