Opinion Former Article

NEA: Fuel poverty awareness day

As temperatures plummet, the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity National Energy Action launches Fuel Poverty Awareness Day urging all households struggling to heat their homes to seek help immediately and avoid needless suffering.

Around 7 million UK households are currently estimated to be living in fuel poverty that is they are unable to afford to heat their homes to a level adequate for good health and well-being.

Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of low incomes, high energy prices, and poor-quality energy inefficient housing. Many people, worried about rising fuel bills, ration their heating use to such an extent that it has a serious impact on their physical and mental health, and every year, around 25,000 more people die over the winter months compared to the non-winter months. The most vulnerable members of society are particularly at risk – pensioners, the long-term sick or disabled, and young children.

The Government has a commitment to eradicate fuel poverty in all UK households by 2016, however rising energy prices mean there are now around 1.5 million more households in fuel poverty than there were at this time last year.

Warm Front, the flagship insulation scheme of the previous government, is due to come to a close soon but is currently still open to applicants. Due to the milder weather experienced this winter there has been less demand on the scheme, which last winter - the coldest December in 100 years - had to close its doors to applicants due to the high demand.

However the recent freeze has highlighted the need for households to protect themselves from the cold and there is still funding available for eligible households, who can benefit from simple insulation measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation, to bigger measures such as a new, efficient, central heating system.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “The cold weather we’re experiencing at the moment reminds everyone how important it is to have a warm home so I’m urging anyone who’s eligible for a Warm Front grant to pick up the phone. Getting a new boiler, fixing an old one, or even just topping up loft insulation can lead to a warmer home in the future. It’s easy to apply, all you have to do is call 0800 316 6004 and, if you’re eligible, the Warm Front team will do all the paperwork for you.”

Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at National Energy Action, said: “Our key message for Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is don’t suffer in silence.

“Improving the energy efficiency of housing can make a huge difference to energy bills. Anyone who is eligible for Cold Weather Payments and owns their own home or rents privately can claim the Warm Front grant, please apply as a matter of urgency. If you aren’t eligible for Warm Front do ring the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699 as there may be other assistance available for you.”

ENDS

Notes to editors
1) Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, takes place on 10 February 2011 and aims to raise awareness of the issue of cold related illnesses and point people to places where they can get help and support.
2) NEA is the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity campaigning for affordable warmth in the homes of vulnerable people. For further details visit http://www.nea.org.uk

3) Fuel poverty is defined as when a household is required to spend more than ten per cent of its income after housing costs on total fuel use.

4) Current grant programmes are Warm Front in England (0800 408 2095) http://www.warmfront.co.uk/ . The Energy Assistance Package in Scotland (0800 512 012) www.energyassistancepackage.com. The Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES) in Wales (0800 316 2815) http://www.heeswales.co.uk/

5) The Home Heat Helpline is a free, not for profit, phone line set up to help British energy customers who are struggling to pay their fuel bill and keep warm. The Home Heat Helpline was launched by the Energy Retail Association in October 2005 and has become a cornerstone service for low-income households in urgent need of heating help and advice. (0800 33 66 99 or www.homeheathelpline.co.uk).
Kind regards
Lesley Tudor-Snodin
Communication Officer, NEA

National Energy Action (NEA)
Level 6 (Elswick)
West One
Forth Banks
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 3PA

T: 0191 261 5677
F: 0191 261 6496
E: LTS@nea.org.uk
W: http://www.nea.org.uk/

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