Across Europe and North America, fuel poverty is on the rise: as many as 100 million people are estimated to be unable to afford to keep their homes adequately warm during winter months.
EnAct (The Energy Action Project), in association with multiple partners, presents Cold@Home, a multimedia project that investigates the underlying causes of fuel poverty, its impacts on people and society, and the measures being taken by diverse actors to address it.
Cold@Home’s underlying message is that fuel poverty is not about being poor. In most cases, the combination of low quality housing and high energy prices drives people into financial hardship, ultimately compromising their health and well‐being.
Cold@Home will evolve as it unfolds. EnAct will welcome questions from it audiences, accept ideas for new stories or angles, and engage with additional experts as needed.
See the full press release here:
It’s National Fuel Poverty Awareness Day and in support of this SE2 have created this list of 13 interesting facts:
- Fuel poverty in England is measured by the Low Income High Costs definition, which considers a household to be in fuel poverty if ‘they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level) and were they to spend that amount they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line’.
- Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is the national day of action, raising awareness of the problems faced by low-income households. The initiative, coordinated by National Energy Action (NEA), falls at the end of its winter Warm Homes Campaign. The Home Heat Helplinesupports the initiative and will be working closely with the NEA on future campaigns.
- The Committee on Climate Change’s Fifth Carbon Budgetoutlined that fuel poverty has risen to 4.5 million households (2013) from 3.3 million (2007) and suggests that even with fully funded targeted action it could take around 15 years to return to the position we were in eight years ago.
- According to a recent reportpublished by ACE, cold homes are currently a bigger killer across the UK than road and rail accidents, alcohol or drug abuse.
- There are around 4 million children living in fuel poverty in England according to a new reportpublished by the National Children’s Bureau.
- The latest Excess Winter Mortality in England and Wales statistical bulletin released by the Office for National Statistics states ‘an estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2014/15. The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 and over; there were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group in 2014/15, compared with 7,700 in people aged under 75’.
- Citizens Advice have launched a price comparison toolto help consumers compare prices from different energy suppliers. If you’re considering switching, you may find these guides useful from Birmingham Citizens Advice and Ofgem.
- New research reveals Newcastle and Glasgow are the warmest cities in the UK when it comes to being neighbourly, knowing on average five of their neighbours. Birmingham and London are the coldest, knowing an average of three people. These findings have been revealed as the Home Heat Helplinecalls on the nation to #SharetheWarmth, and think about whether a neighbour, friend or family member is at risk and could be eligible for support that will help them stay warm during Britain’s notoriously long winter.
- Fuel poverty affects residents even in more affluent areas. SE2have been working with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea since 2008 to tackle this by promoting the Healthy Homes initiative. The Council’s Healthy Homes hotlinehelps people who are having difficulty keeping their homes warm or keeping up with their energy bills.
- On Fuel Poverty Awareness Day the Home Heat Helpline is urging people to call 0800 33 66 99 to see if they may be eligible for help with their energy bills.
- Are you a London home owner or an accredited private landlord? You could get £400 from the mayor to replace your old boiler from the London Boiler Cashback scheme.
- You could be entitled to £140 off your electricity bill with the Warm Home Discount Scheme.See our pdf here for details of which suppliers are providing the scheme.
- And finally, here are a list of some of the events taking place in support of National Fuel Poverty Awareness day:
- Do you want to make big savings on your energy bills?
- Do you have an old, inefficient boiler?
- Are you a London home owner or an accredited private landlord?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, you could receive £400 towards the cost of upgrading to a new, high efficiency boiler from the Mayor’s new London Boiler Cashback Scheme.
The scheme – which launched on 2 February 2016 – is first-come, first-served. It’s going to be very popular, so apply soon to avoid disappointment.
Download our list of Warm Home Discount suppliers’ phone numbers and websites now.
What is the Warm Home Discount?
The Warm Home Discount provides a rebate on electricity bills for vulnerable and low income households. This year, it’s £140.
Even better news: the scheme has recently been extended to 2021, with the rebate amount rising each year, so Londoners can receive the rebate in the years to come as well.
Not everyone qualifies for the Warm Home Discount, and many people will have to apply.
Who qualifies automatically?
People who receive Pension Credit Guarantee qualify automatically and should receive their rebate in the form of a discount off their electricity bill in February or March each year.
Who should apply?
Each electricity supplier has different criteria for their discount scheme. You can only apply to your current electricity supplier. People who are likely to be eligible are those on Pension Credit (Savings), those on low incomes, and those on means-tested benefits.
Who should I contact?
To make life easier, we have compiled a list of all the participating electricity suppliers, including their phone number and website address specifically for Warm Home Discount applications. You can download a PDF of the list here.
Liz was one of the team who set up the London Fuel Poverty Hub as a way of coordinating information, data and responses to fuel poverty across the capital. She’s worked extensively in energy efficiency, helping to inform national policy and alongside local authorities across the country to deliver local support and services.
The London Assembly Environment Committee recently published a short report full of useful information and insights for anyone working in fuel poverty or housing or supporting vulnerable people. It’s called Come Rain or Shine – London’s adaptation to the risks of severe weather and it’s well worth a read.
It looks at the potential impacts of a changing climate in relation to heat, cold, floods and drought. London already faces challenges from severe weather – many of you will remember the heatwave summers of the early 2000s (and some may remember 1976!) which had such a dramatic effect on health and wellbeing. And even an average winter presents significant health challenges to people living in cold homes, putting extra stresses in the health system.
Have a read – share the report – and feel free to tweet us @LDNFuelPoverty to let us know how you think London should respond to the challenges of a changing climate.
National Energy Action recently announced that they will be running a £26.2 million fund for fuel poverty action over the coming three years. This is great news, especially at a time when funding from energy suppliers through ECO has virtually disappeared and as Green Deal (which was not designed for the fuel poor) falters.
So where has the money come from? Well, technically, it should have been spent already. Two energy companies – Drax and Intergen – failed to meet their obligations under the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), a previous energy supplier obligation scheme. So the penalty for failing to deliver on energy efficiency is to pay for energy efficiency – I do like the closure of that, rather than the money just disappearing into the exchequer.
I am curious to know how much it would have cost Drax and Intergen to meet their obligations under CESP and whether the £26.2 million is actually quite punitive…
That said, I’m delighted that NEA have been able to agree that they will manage the fines / money. So far, we know that there will be three elements to their work: a Warm Zones fund (£13 million) which will presumably operate on a similar basis to other area-based schemes (including, ironically, CESP); a Technical Innovation Fund; and a Warm and Healthy Homes Fund.
The Warm and Healthy Homes Fund sounds as though it will be a Warm Homes, Healthy People type programme – bringing together health and social care professionals, public health and the energy efficiency agenda to provide not just energy efficiency but warmth packs, behavioural advice and perhaps tariff advice to residents with health vulnerabilities.
The Technical Innovation Fund sounds interesting too – my hope is that it explores not just product / material innovation (eg, new heating controls, thinner insulation materials) but also process innovation, to help the supply chain and its partners to grapple with some of the logistical challenges that persist in energy efficiency and retrofit. Innovations to help with scheduling, contractor / client communication and minimising disruption would all be welcomed, not just for those in fuel poverty but across the general population.
If you want to find out more about the NEA “Redressing the Balance” funding, you can sign up for email updates by sending your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Image sourced from Greenpeace
Here’s some information received from NEA about a survey they are carrying out. We’d encourage all London based organisations to respond to the survey, to make sure that findings and recommendations meet the needs of fuel poor households in the capital.
Are you an organisation helping households that are cold and sick gain access to help on energy? If so, National Energy Action on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is asking you to participate in an ‘energy on prescription’ survey.
DECC is running the survey to learn more about how energy efficiency and other fuel poverty schemes are targeting households with health problems. The survey will be used to develop a catalogue of ‘energy on prescription’ schemes that DECC is happy to share with respondents. You may find it useful in delivering your own scheme. Your participation will also help government work out the best way to support local delivery by organisations like yours in the future.
More information and the survey questionnaire can be found here.
The survey closes on 3 February 2015.