Charity warning on fuel poverty as work by local Health and Wellbeing board commended

Published Tuesday 29 November 2016 at 10:38

National Energy Action’s (NEA) vision is that ‘no one is living in fuel poverty’ but the charity has warned that, at the current level of delivery and funding, this won’t happen in the average lifetime of a baby born today in the UK.

NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign highlights that around four million UK households are still unable to access equal life chances because they live in a cold, damp home. Fuel poor households in Blackburn with Darwen typically need to pay £352 more than their more affluent neighbours to sustain a warm home. But Blackburn with Darwen Health and Wellbeing Board is working hard to combat this, having been rated by NEA as one of the top authorities in the UK for their efforts.

Jenny Saunders OBE, Chief Executive of National Energy Action (NEA), said:

We need to see much more ambition from national and local government if we are to end the unnecessary cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty.

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.

By the age of 40 she is more likely to have suffered anxiety caused by worry over fuel bills or falling into debt and a number of health concerns such as cardiovascular problems will be aggravated. In later life, conditions such as arthritis will be worsened and she will have an increased risk of accidents, injuries, and falls in the home.

Saunders continued:

There are excellent examples of good practice locally that demonstrate how health and wellbeing boards and local authorities are tackling the health inequalities of living in cold homes. This includes Blackburn with Darwen which is top rated in our recent ‘Get Warm Soon report’. These examples must be replicated in all parts of the country to facilitate action to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable.

As well as continuing to tackle exclusion in the energy market, the answer lies in increasing investment in domestic energy efficiency. We need to follow the example of other developed countries and be driving massive permanent reduction in total energy demand across the UK. The UK Government must also mobilise all relevant departments to deliver the current fuel poverty strategy and improve conditions in the private rented sector urgently. Currently thousands of landlords are making huge amounts of money from their tenants’ housing benefit but continuing to rent out potentially life-damaging homes.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Chair of Blackburn with Darwen Health and Wellbeing Board and Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

I am delighted to see our local work has been recognised in this way. Encouraging people to keep warm and healthy, especially during the winter, is really important and something we always look to prioritise. Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Decent And Safe Homes (DASH) service is incredibly important for many people in the winter months and beyond. They can check that people are getting all the benefits they are entitled to and that they have the right heating, insulation and fire safety measures. We are also part of a scheme to help warm up homes across the borough by providing free central heating for certain households without it. To see if you qualify contact (01254) 588822.

We can all play a part in trying to be more energy efficient, for more information on what you can do visit:

For more information on DASH visit:

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