Call for action over cold homes 'national crisis'
Published on 25 October 2013 02:00 PM
Investing in 'super insulation' for Britain's homes is the only way to tackle the 'scourge' of fuel poverty, campaigners have said.
Energy Bill Revolution, an alliance of fuel poverty campaigners including Age UK, Consumer Futures, Barnardo's and National Energy Action, has written to the Prime Minister to demand action over the 'national crisis' of cold homes.
Britain's households face higher energy bills than residents in European countries such as Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands despite much lower wholesale gas costs in the UK because of 'woeful' levels of insulation, the group said.
More than five million UK households spend more than 10% of their income on energy costs, meaning they are classed as being in fuel poverty.
In its letter to David Cameron, the alliance accused party leaders of 'ignoring the only way to truly solve the energy bill crisis' by focusing on what it called short-term solutions such as windfall taxes, price freezes and removal of green taxes.
‘Woefully short of a true solution'
Ed Matthew, the alliance's campaign director, said politicians were 'falling over themselves to come up with headline-grabbing ways to cut energy bills yet they fall woefully short of a true solution to the energy bill crisis'.
He said the biggest opportunity to cut energy bills was to fully insulate Britain's 'leaky' homes and called on the Government to make insulating homes the country's infrastructure priority.
'No other investment can do so much for so many,' Mr Matthew said.
Age UK's Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, said: ‘With fuel poverty blighting the lives of millions of households, it is nothing short of a national scandal that the UK is lagging so far behind other countries when it comes to tackling the problem.
‘Cold homes can have a devastating impact on older people's health, putting tens of thousands at risk every winter. Energy efficiency is the only sustainable long term solution to rising energy costs, and decisive action is urgently needed to tackle the root cause of the problem - the UK's poorly insulated housing.
‘As part of a clear, long term strategy, the government must commit to using carbon tax revenues to insulate fuel poor homes against soaring energy prices once and for all.'
The campaign comes as Public Health England (PHE) called on people to keep their homes warm this winter to help tackle the thousands of avoidable deaths that occur each year.
Living rooms should be heated at a temperature of 21C (70F), while other rooms in the house should be 18C (65F), the Government agency said.
It said having the heating on higher than this could waste money but warned that falling below these temperatures 'may risk your health'.
PHE acknowledged that many struggle to afford to heat all their rooms, and advised that in this case they should keep their lounge heated in the daytime and heat bedrooms shortly before going to bed.
Copyright Press Association 2013