27 July 2017

 

National Energy Action (NEA) and Energy Action Scotland (EAS) released a new report this month which estimates over 9,600 frail and vulnerable people across the UK are at risk of dying throughout the coming winter months due to cold homes; 80 people per day.  NEA and EAS are calling on all four nations’ governments to hold an urgent summit to agree where new resources can be found to stop tragic winter deaths.  The new UK Fuel Poverty Monitor also provides the latest national fuel poverty statistics and an update on the key aspects of policy which impact on 4 million fuel poor households as well as the population at large.  The report warns that cold homes:

  • Increase risks of heart attacks and strokes via rising blood pressur;
  • Orsen respiratory illnesses such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) and asthma;
  • Worsen arthritic, rheumatic conditions which increase propensity to falls.

Pat Austin Director of NEA NI who chairs the Northern Ireland Fuel Poverty Coalition said:

“In Northern Ireland, health must play an upfront and central role in the new Outcome Based Programme for Government and this will require close alignment with the proposed action for a new Fuel Poverty Strategy.  More can also be done to improve targeting, tailored advice and referrals to the health related fuel poverty schemes.  The new UK wide Digital Economy Act should be adopted for all relevant Northern Ireland fuel poverty schemes. We also need a watching brief on home heating oil prices.  In Northern Ireland home heating oil is the main fuel source with 68% of households reliant on this unregulated fuel to heat their homes.  In January 2016 the price of oil was at an all-time low, but since then the price has increased by almost 50%”.

The report highlights that there is no central government investment in UK wide energy efficiency programmes, and recommends that the new United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund and the National Productivity Investment Fund should support initiatives to meet fuel poverty commitments across the UK nations, and more generally improve our unhealthy and inefficient housing stock.  The report concludes that there are over 12 million homes across the UK that are potentially damaging the health of their occupants and are less efficient than a modern home. Around 4 million contain households on the lowest incomes.