UK must invest to tackle fuel poverty
Published on 09 November 2012 12:00 PM
More than six million households in Britain cannot afford to keep their homes warm, according to a study by Consumer Focus.
The organisation investigated the level of fuel poverty across the country and revealed that a combination of stagnant incomes, higher energy prices and old, leaky homes have left many people unable to pay their heating bills.
Its report 'Jobs, growth and warmer homes' argues that any solution to the problem is going to require a lot of money - more money than any government has been able to commit to date.
The commitment to eradicate fuel poverty in Britain was taken in 2001. Back then there were less than two million households struggling to keep their homes warm, while the country was largely self-sufficient in gas and household bills were comparatively low.
However, the situation has deteriorated at an accelerated rate in the past decade, with considerably more households at risk this winter.
The report suggests that a change in the energy efficiency of Britain's housing stock is the only way to solve the widespread problem.
It argues for using carbon taxes revenue to benefit consumers, and fuel poor households in particular, as incomes for those in fuel poverty are unlikely to improve anytime soon, while energy prices seem just as unlikely to fall.
By doing so, Consumer Focus believes it would help create warmer homes, create greater energy efficiency and boost economic growth.
Commenting on the report, Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director General, said sorting out the problem of the UK's energy-inefficient housing stock would benefit people of all ages.
'Cold homes poses a huge health risk to older people in particular and contribute to tens of thousands of unnecessary and preventable deaths every winter,' she said.
'Improving the energy efficiency of our homes would not only help save lives but, as this research shows, could also bring much needed growth to the UK economy.'
Copyright Press Association 2012