Every winter millions of people across the UK struggle to stay warm and healthy at home. Rising energy costs, low incomes and energy inefficient homes leave them unable to afford even basic household essentials like energy, food and heating. Living in a cold home can have a range of impacts on physical and mental health and treating cold-related illness is estimated to cost the NHS in England and Wales over £2bn a year.
This year the situation will be even more difficult. Covid-19 is squeezing household finances further and compelling people to spend more time in their homes. Some of the health conditions caused or worsened by cold homes, such as asthma and COPD, also place people at greater risk from the virus.
A survey of 73 organisations supporting people in fuel poverty during the first wave of Covid-19, conducted by charity National Energy Action, showed that 95% felt there was a moderate or high risk of more households cutting back on their energy use due to being forced to spend more time at home; and three quarters said they were concerned that there is a high risk of the increased building up of fuel debt this winter (UK Fuel Poverty Monitor 2019-2020).
This Fuel Poverty Awareness Day [27 November] the Staying Put Agency is joining national charity NEA others up and down the country to highlight these issues and encourage people to seek the help that is available to keep warm at home.
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of NEA, commented: ‘‘Millions of people dread the cold weather, and have no idea of the support that may be available to them. While we are urging the Government to do more we also want to highlight the huge range of help that is available, from energy suppliers, local authorities, community groups and others. By working together we can get help to those who need it, and ensure more people can live in a warm and safe home this winter’.
Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is the national initiative to encourage action for warm homes. It is coordinated by fuel poverty charity NEA and supported by others across the UK. Find out more about Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.