News

NEA launch the Warm Homes Campaign – ‘I, Daniel Blake’ star backing the campaign

NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of being able to live in a warm, comfortable home and illustrate how to improve access to equal life chances. This year, NEA is teaming up with I, Daniel Blake star Dave Johns who is backing the campaign.

“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’s available to cope with rising energy bills as winter takes hold and demand more support from Government.” Dave Johns

The 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.

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.

Find out more about the campaign here and its key asks here.

For updates on the campaign follow NEA on twitter @NEA_UKCharity #WarmHomesCampaign

Autumn statement: Overlooking energy efficiency will leave millions in the cold this winter

Press release in response to Autumn Statement (23.11.16)

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) warns that failure to adequately invest in binding energy efficiency targets risks leaving millions struggling in fuel poverty this winter

Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement showed no mention of investment in energy saving and efficiency measures so desperately needed to lift 2.3m English homes out of fuel poverty this winter. The statement flies in the face of recommendations recently made by the Committee on Fuel Poverty, the government’s own advisory body, who call for a £20bn injection for its legally binding 2030 targets and 2020 and 2025 milestones to be met.

While in today’s Autumn Statement the government held fast to its intentions to tackle inequality, spend more on the country’s infrastructure and intervene to address failing energy markets and high energy pricing, there was a glaring and obvious energy efficiency shaped hole in the measures outlined. A lack of investment in energy efficiency measures, such as a well-funded second Energy Company Obligation, is a huge missed opportunity for economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The government must find £20bn if it is serious about meeting its legally binding fuel poverty target – that the energy standards of all fuel poor homes must be at least EPC C by 2030, the standard of homes built today. It is likely to miss its two interim milestones set out in its 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy that is that by 2020 no fuel poor household should live in a dangerously cold home below EPC E and that by 2025 no fuel poor household should live in a cold home – below EPC D.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling for the government to:
• Make sure £20bn is invested in improving fuel poor homes, as recommended by the Committee
• Hold a much-delayed parliamentary debate on fuel poverty as legally required, already overdue from May
• Put in place a detailed cross-departmental strategy and plan to show how it will meet the 2030 target and interim milestones

Fuel poverty background
• Twice as many fuel poor households live in cold homes (41%) as non-fuel poor households (19%)
• Fuel poor households need to pay £371 more per year to keep their home warm compared to the average household in England
• Prepayment meter consumers are more likely to be on a low income, a lone parent and disabled, yet pay on average £226 annually more for their energy than those paying by Direct Debit
• 2.3 million homes live in fuel poverty in England
• 96% of fuel poor homes are poorly insulated
• 21 million UK homes have poor energy efficiency (below B and C on an EPC)

Jenny Holland, Chair of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition said:

“Being able to live in a home that is warm over wintertime is a most basic need, currently unmet by 2.3 million families in England. The Autumn Statement was a prime opportunity for the government to prove its commitment to energy efficiency and in turn the alleviation of fuel poverty. However, the lack of mention of vital energy efficiency measures sadly nods towards its own legally binding energy efficiency targets being more rhetoric than reality.

If the government is truly committed to building an economy that works for everyone, it will recognise the huge benefits of recognising energy efficiency as an infrastructure priority and the huge potential for job creation in tandem with poverty alleviation.”

Advisory body calls for major funding injection to meet fuel poverty targets

Substantial investment is required if the government is to meet its fuel poverty targets according to its advisory body. The first report of the Committee on Fuel Poverty makes clear that the government must find £20bn if it is serious about meeting its legally binding fuel poverty target – that the energy standards of all fuel poor homes must be at least EPC C by 2030, the standard of homes built today.

The Committee also warns that without a substantial injection of funding, the government is likely to miss its two interim milestones set out in its 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy, that is:

  • by 2020 no fuel poor household should live in a dangerously cold home – below EPC E; and
  • by 2025, no fuel poor household should live in a cold home – below EPC

The Committee makes 15 recommendations to government. As well as more money, it recommends re-introducing the Landlord’s Energy Savings Allowance; more financial assistance for households as they wait for energy efficiency improvements; improved targeting of fuel poor households through better data sharing; and improved energy advice.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition welcomes the CFP’s report and its echoing our core concerns.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling for the government to:

1. Make sure £20bn is invested in improving fuel poor homes, as recommended by the Committee

2. Hold a much-delayed parliamentary debate on fuel poverty as legally required, already overdue from May

3. Put in place a detailed cross-departmental strategy and plan to show how it will meet the 2030 target and interim milestones

More information on the recommendations of the report are summarised on our website and in the full report.

Read the End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s response to the Committee on Fuel Poverty’s report here.

Committee for Fuel Poverty releases its first annual report

The government’s advisory group on fuel poverty, the Committee for Fuel Poverty, this week released its first annual report after being established at the start of the year.

Tasked with advising government on fuel poverty policy, specifically the delivery of its Fuel Poverty Strategy, the report offers detailed analysis and a series of urgent recommendations in order for impending 2020 and 2030 government fuel poverty targets to be met.

Noting the closeness of the government’s 2020 target deadline, it makes a series of urgent recommendations to increase the efficiency, impact and likelihood of averting expected shortfalls in delivery and funding. Even with ramped up and more targeted action, the committee notes that to meet the 2020 milestones there would be a back-up of activity in 2018 and 2019.

Of particular note, the report recommends;

• A stronger emphasis on improvements in the targeting of fuel poor households, right down to being able to identify individual addresses to facilitate roll out of specific services and support.

• Better Data Sharing legislation to connect up information held across government departments.

• Moving expenditure from the full suite of Government fuel poverty programmes so that it is more focused on fuel poor households, to include Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount.

• The provision of a ‘targeting efficiency metric’ for each fuel poverty programme.

• Fuel poor households to be given help with fuel bills until their homes are improved.

• A greater role for councils, charities and health agencies to work alongside fuel companies to delivery energy efficiency programmes.

• Investing into energy efficiency from National Infrastructure funds.

• Placing onus on private landlords to fund energy efficiency up to minimum standards in their properties.

More detailed analysis of the report will be provided by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, but in the meantime information on the Committee for Fuel Poverty and its report and recommendations can be found here, as well as the government’s 2015 fuel poverty strategy ‘Cutting the cost of keeping warm’ for reference.

Health and wellbeing boards failing to sufficiently tackle fuel poverty, NEA report outlines

EFPC member, National Energy Action, this week launched ‘Get Warm Soon?’, its report investigating the impact of health and wellbeing boards in England in their approach to tackling fuel poverty.

The report assesses how many health and wellbeing boards in England are including public health indicators on fuel poverty and excess winter deaths in their needs assessments and health and wellbeing strategies. It also assesses the extent to which health and wellbeing boards are applying National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations to reduce ill health associated with living in a cold home.

While there are some signs for optimism, NEA’s findings show serious call for concern on the role and impact of health and wellbeing boards in tackling fuel poverty.

• 40% of health and wellbeing board strategies fail to address fuel poverty or excess winter deaths.

• Only 32% of health and wellbeing boards reference actions in their joint strategic needs assessments or strategy that are in line with at least one of the 12 NICE recommendations.

• 30% have some form of health and housing referral service in place to provide tailored solutions to people vulnerable to the cold, but only one-fifth of boards reference such a service in their strategies.

• Evidence of procedures that make sure hospitals and other service providers do not discharge patients into cold homes is only available for 13% of boards.

• The majority of health and wellbeing boards are not yet playing the leadership role envisaged by NICE and Public Health England to address ill health from cold homes

• More optimistically, there is an increase in the number of boards prioritising fuel poverty as a health and wellbeing issue, with more than a third of boards now doing so.

Get Warm Soon?’ goes on to outline a series of recommendations, focusing on;

• Incorporating the NICE guidance into joint health and wellbeing strategies
• Improving public health leadership to tackle cold homes
• Improving accountability
• Implementing the NICE recommendations
• Tailoring fuel poverty schemes to address public health priorities

For more information contact NEA and read the full report or executive summary.

Winter deaths surge

An estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2014/15 – the highest number since 1999/00 with 27% more people dying in the winter months compared with the non-winter months, according to figures just released by Office for National Statistics (25 November 2015)

Four in every five deaths (82%) 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 under 75.

Respiratory diseases were the underlying cause of death in more than a third of all excess winter deaths in 2014/15.

Excess winter deaths for men and women more than doubled in just one year, with more deaths among women than men. Male excess winter deaths increased from 7,210 to 18,400, and female deaths from 10,250 to 25,500 between 2013/14 and 2014/15.

The excess winter mortality index was highest in the South West in 2014/15 and joint lowest in Yorkshire and The Humber, and Wales.

Chancellor cuts help for cold homes despite surge in excess winter deaths

George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

On the same day (25 November) that official figures revealed that last winter’s excess winter deaths were the highest for 15 years, the chancellor announced that he was cutting the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

George Osborne announced, in the spending review, that ECO will run for five years from April 2017 with an annual budget of £640m. This represents a 42 per cent reduction in expenditure. The average ECO spend over the 2.5 years to the end of June 2015 was £1.1bn per annum.

End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) chair Jenny Holland said:

“The chancellor failed to heed calls from 200 organisations to commit infrastructure funds to a major energy efficiency programme targeted on the fuel poor. He also indicated a cut in ECO, the only remaining help in England for householders living in cold homes. Infrastructure funds to make our homes energy efficient would have led to lower bills and a massive saving to the NHS. Instead he is slicing the key policy in England that can bring much-needed help to the fuel poor. National Energy Action (NEA) estimates that this decision could lead to the NHS having to spend in excess of £22bn to treat cold-related illnesses over the next 15 years.

“The chancellor’s decision was short-sighted – and we urge him to think again. We will also be asking the newly formed National Infrastructure Commission to recommend to government the use of the UK public infrastructure budget to invest in a major energy efficiency to make our homes warm and healthy to live in.”

Energy efficiency is not at the core of new policy

Amber Rudd
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd MP
A ‘consumer-led, competition-focused energy system that has energy security at the heart of it’ was the core message from Energy Secretary Amber Rudd when she announced plans to close all coal-fired power plants by 2025 but relax the drive for renewable energy.

The speech, on Wednesday 18 November 2015, aimed to ‘reset’ Britain’s energy policy. Energy Secretary Rudd did recognise that: “One of the best ways to cut bills and cut carbon is to cut energy use itself” and said she was ‘determined’ that help though the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) would be ‘concentrated on those in greatest need’.

“It is was good that Amber Rudd mentioned energy efficiency but it was towards the end of her speech” said End Fuel Poverty Coalition Chair Jenny Holland. “Energy efficiency and a programme focusing on the homes of those in fuel poverty must be at the core of any energy policy. Yet Amber Rudd’s pledge to insulate 1m homes represents an 80 per cent drop compared with activity in the last Parliament – and ECO alone can’t keep out the cold and make homes affordably warm.”

Jenny Holland also added that energy competition often failed those on low incomes who could not benefit from online deals using direct debit. “Making energy competition work for everyone should also be a government priority” she said.

Energy efficiency a ‘win-win’ for Chancellor’s Spending Review

George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

Making this country’s homes highly energy efficient should be a national infrastructure priority, according to recently published independent research and would be a ‘win-win’ for the Chancellor’s spending review on 25 November 2015.

The research, by Verco and Cambridge Econometrics, revealed that a programme to make UK homes energy efficient would provide net economic benefits of £8.7 billion, based on the government’s own economic analysis – comparable economic benefits to infrastructure initiatives such as HS2 Phase 1, Crossrail and new roads.

Jobs, economic and energy security benefits would be created as a result Ref of an ambitious energy efficiency infrastructure programme according to the research. It could:

  • Reduce gas imports by 26%, strengthening Britain’s energy security
  • Deliver a net increase in employment of up to 108,000 jobs

Government is finalising its spending plans in the lead up to the Spending Review (when £100 billion is anticipated to be allocated to support infrastructure projects over the next 5 years). If just £3 billion of this were allocated to an energy efficiency infrastructure programme, 2 million low income households could see their homes made warm and their fuel bills affordable.

This research is clear: investing in energy efficiency offers significant net economic benefits to the nation, comparable to infrastructure investments in roads and railways“, said End Fuel Poverty Coalition Chair Jenny Holland. “A major energy infrastructure programme would boost economic growth, reduce the UK’s reliance on gas imports and help deliver a net increase in employment across the country. It would keep energy bills down, reduce health costs and warm up the homes of the fuel poor.

This country’s draughty homes are amongst the most expensive to heat in Europe. The UK has one of the highest levels of fuel poverty in Western Europe, as well as one of the worst proportions of homes in a poor state of repair. While most other European countries face higher energy prices than those of the UK, better quality home insulation means most of our European neighbours pay less to heat their homes. Amber Rudd says we need to build a new infrastructure, fit for the 21st century – we can’t do that while our homes are only fit for the 19th.Ref

Launch of the EFPC Affordable Warmth Manifesto

9th September 2014, Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament

Launch of the EFPC Affordable Warmth Manifesto

Members of Parliament joined over 80 stakeholders at the launch of our ‘Ending cold homes: Affordable warmth’ manifesto. Our manifesto calls on the current and future governments to dramatically improve action to end fuel poverty and thereby improve people’s health and quality of life, reduce the cost of living, create jobs and negate carbon emissions.

Millions of people cannot afford to heat and power their homes and millions are suffering ill-health, stress and anxiety due to unaffordable fuel bills. Members of the EFPC believe that everybody has the right to a warm, dry home that they can afford to heat and power.

The Affordable Warmth Manifesto calls for:

  1. Improvements to the homes of all low-income households to EPC C by 2025: Homes of all low-income households to meet standards close to those of homes built today (at least Energy Performance Certificate C)
  2. Energy efficiency to be an infrastructure priority: Make energy efficiency of our homes a central priority for investment in the country’s infrastructure and secure long term funding for this.
  3. A cross-departmental Fuel Poverty Strategy: Implement a strategy to end fuel poverty that sets targets for all relevant government departments and which works alongside policies on social well-being, health inequalities, housing affordability, climate change and poverty.
  4. Delivery of home improvements and a greater role for health and social workers: Use trusted agencies and organisations, such as local authorities, to improve homes and encourage health workers and social workers to refer people for home improvements to tackle cold-related ill-health.
  5. A better deal for low-income energy consumers and fuel bill rebates: A requirement placed on fuel companies to provide a better deal to those on low incomes, and rebates on fuel bills to all low-income consumers, with higher rebates for those in homes that are difficult to heat.
  6. Employment and income policies that allow people to afford essential services: Make sure employment and income policies – benefits, tax credits, state pensions, minimum wage – provide an income sufficient to meet current costs of living and reduce the proportion of household budgets required for essential goods and services, including energy.

Hosted by the Chair of the Coalition Jenny Holland, a panel of Coalition members; Ed Matthew from Energy Bill Revolution, Sophie Neuburg from Friends of the Earth, Mervyn Kohler from AgeUK and Peter Smith from National Energy Action, set out our 6 pledges to end the misery of cold homes. Sophie Neuburg welcomed the strong targets set out in the manifesto and Ed Matthew said that the economic return from investing in energy efficient infrastructure is equal to anything else the Government could invest in. Peter Smith highlighted the need for a cross-departmental fuel poverty strategy and Mervyn Kohler argued for giving resources to local authority and health workers to take action to address the health implications of cold homes.

In response to the 6 pledges in the manifesto, a cross-party panel; Jonathan Reynolds MP, the Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change; Stephen Lloyd MP, the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey; and David Amess MP who introduced the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act in 2000 – gave us their support. Jonathan Reynolds promised to make fuel poverty a prominent feature of the Labour manifesto and committed to a major overhaul of ECO. Stephen Lloyd promised to make sure the six asks are reflected in the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto. David Amess promised to take the manifesto to Number 10 and called on everybody to make fuel poverty a major issue during The General Election campaign.

We very much hope that the political parties will support our manifesto and work together to tackle fuel poverty. We are keen for new members to join the coalition.  Please support the EFPC in our campaign to end cold homes.  If you want to pledge your support please sign up on our website or email efpc@connectpa.co.uk for more information.

Launch of the EFPC Affordable Warmth Manifesto
The End Fuel Poverty Coalition manifesto was launched in Parliament on 9 September 2014. Hosted by Chris Williamson MP.

Please click here to view our manifesto.