A fuel poverty charity has launched a campaign today to raise awareness of the growing number of UK households struggling to meet the costs of heating their homes.
For more than 25 years the National Energy Action (NEA) has been campaigning for affordable warmth for vulnerable low income households and the respected charity has chosen Fuel Poverty Awareness Day (1 February) to launch a new campaign which is aiming to make members of the public and politicians more aware of the plight facing millions of fuel poor households.
With around 6.5 million fuel poor households in the UK, the charity is appealing to politicians to take long overdue action to address the fuel poverty crisis sweeping the country; a situation which is only getting worse and won’t have been helped by the recent cold snap which hit Britain last month. The NEA is concerned that the Government’s current policies designed to help fuel poor households is actually doing more harm than good when it comes to addressing the needs of the millions of households faced with living in fuel poverty.
If a household has to spend more than 10% of its combined income on heating then it’s classed as fuel poor. Research carried out by the NEA has revealed that there is a huge shortage in funding to insulate households on low-incomes. The Government has set 2016 as a target to eradicate fuel poverty. But according to the NEA’s latest report by 2016 programmes which are designed to transform the energy efficiency of fuel poor households will in fact end up leaving hundreds of thousands of households in badly insulated properties due to insufficient funding. It means that 5% of households falling into the fuel poor category – households who would in fact benefit the most from home insulation improvement measures like loft insulation and cavity wall insulation – will be excluded.
Fuel poverty is an issue that doesn’t just impact on the elderly and other vulnerable members of society. In fact, over 50% of people classed as fuel poor are under the age of 65.
Regardless of age, with fuel poverty comes a wide range of problems. It’s well known that living in cold damp homes can cause a range of health issues and even worsen already existing conditions. For the elderly and most vulnerable fuel poverty can even lead to premature death. Health problems aside, fuel poor households often live in social isolation and often suffer from mental health issues as a result.
Anyone on a low income struggling with affordable heating should contact the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 for free impartial energy saving advice. There is help and support available however there seems to be a general lack of awareness among the public when it comes to central heating, home insulation and boiler grants and associated schemes.
The Warm Homes 2013 campaign will see the NEA continue to play a pivotal role in the ongoing fight against fuel poverty. To learn more about the initiative visit www.nea.org.uk