National Energy Action’s (NEA) vision is that ‘no one is living in fuel poverty’ but today the charity warns, that at the current level of delivery and funding this won’t happen in the average lifetime of a baby born today.
NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign highlights that around four million UK households are still unable to access equal life chances because they live in a cold, damp home. These life chances are further compromised depending on the tenure of the home our baby will be born into.
New research by NEA shows that energy efficiency problems such as damp and unhealthily low temperatures are more prevalent in privately rented homes such as shared properties, bedsits and hostels. In a recent survey over two thirds said residents cannot afford to heat their room or shared space adequately. A similar number said the worst rental properties have such inadequate heating and insulation that it is impossible to keep them warm and free from damp.
Jenny Saunders OBE, Chief Executive of National Energy Action (NEA) commented:
“We need to see much more ambition from national and local government if we are to end the unnecessary cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty.”
Actor Dave Johns, who plays the lead in ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is backing the campaign. He added:
“It is a complete scandal that people die because they can’t afford to heat their homes. ‘I, Daniel Blake’ shows the tragic circumstances and daily dilemma of ‘heating or eating’ faced by many thousands of people in Britain today. I’m backing NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign to highlight what help is available to cope with rising energy bills as winter takes hold, and demand more support from government.”
The charity is warning that 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 and evidence proves that living in fuel poverty impacts on educational attainment.
By the age of 40 she is more likely to have suffered anxiety caused by worry over fuel bills or falling into debt and 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.
Jenny Saunders continued: “The Government has a statutory target to eradicate fuel poverty by 2030 but current progress would indicate that this target still won’t be met as our baby reaches her 80th birthday. This assumes of course that she has not already died needlessly of the cold. According to BBC’s Panorama programme (referring to a University College London study) this was not the coldest winter on record. However it found that people dying from cold homes are a result of high fuel prices, low incomes and poor insulation – and argue it’s entirely preventable.
“There are excellent examples of good practice locally that demonstrate how health and wellbeing boards and local authorities are tackling the health inequalities of living in cold homes. These have included Blackburn with Darwen; Brighton & Hove; Cornwall; Dorset; Durham; the Isles of Scilly; North Yorkshire; Salford; Solihull; South Tyneside; Stockton-on-Tees; Surrey and Sutton, which are top rated in our recent ‘Get Warm Soon‘ report. These examples must be replicated in all parts of the country to facilitate action to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable.
“As well as continuing to tackle exclusion in the energy market, the answer lies in increasing investment in domestic energy efficiency. We need to follow the example of other developed countries and be driving massive permanent reduction in total energy demand across the UK. The UK Government must also mobilise all relevant departments to deliver the current fuel poverty strategy and improve conditions in the private rented sector urgently. Currently thousands of landlords are making huge amounts of money from their tenants’ housing benefit but continuing to rent out potentially life-damaging homes.”
For futher information on NEAs’ campaign for more information on what you can do visit: www.nea.org.uk/advice