Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2019

15 February 2019

Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy 

Today at City Hall we’re supporting National Energy Action’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.

Fuel poverty is one of London’s major environmental health challenges. It happens when a household’s income does not cover the cost of heating and powering the home. As a result, thousands of Londoners live in cold, damp homes - creating health problems ranging from poor mental health, to childhood asthma and even death.

Fuel poverty in London
341,000 low income families and households in London are affected. This means around one in ten households can be forced to choose between heating and eating during the winter months. 

In the winter of 2017-18, 4,200 more Londoners died compared with the average number of deaths across the rest of the year - the biggest gap in over 40 years. National Energy Action have produced a series of videos to show how cold-related deaths affect each region of the UK. View the London video.

Of these deaths, tragically, around 1,260 can be attributed to cold and damp homes.  

For every cold-related death, there are eight non-fatal hospital admissions, Department of Health data shows. That equates to over 10,000 last year, putting pressure and extra costs on already-stretched health services.

And worryingly the problem is likely to get worse…
The number of London households affected by fuel poverty increased by around 6,000 over the past year.

Last week it was reported that the average household will have to pay hundreds of pounds more as a result of rises in the price of energy, water and council tax. This will hit people who are already struggling to heat their homes.

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What are we doing?
The Mayor’s Fuel Poverty Action Plan sets out what we will do to help lift Londoners out of fuel poverty. Actions will include the following three solutions:

  1. Boosting the incomes of people in fuel poverty in London by supporting benefits uptake campaigns, referral services and programmes that provide direct advice and support to the fuel poor. 
  2. Increasing the energy efficiency of London’s homes so they are better insulated and use less energy. 
  3. Tendering for the delivery of an energy supply company, aiming to offer fairer energy bills to Londoners as soon as possible.

In January 2018, the Mayor launched his Warmer Homes scheme installing measures like new boilers, insulation and double glazing for homeowners on benefits and private rental tenants living in fuel poverty. We’ve received over a thousand applications for the scheme so far with installations underway.

Cross-sector action
Along with Debbie Weekes-Bernard (Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement), I co-chair the Fuel Poverty Partnership, working with health, social justice and environment experts to lead London’s work on fuel poverty.

We’re working with boroughs to support and expand their local fuel poverty referral schemes, providing a fuel poverty advice service across London for the first time in almost a decade. And we will also work with government, energy companies, the NHS, and voluntary sector to push for investment in cold damp homes.

Action required from government
Unfortunately, our work alone cannot end fuel poverty. To ensure more Londoners are living in warm, dry homes we need national government to address the root causes through better regulation of building standards and financial support for households to improve energy efficiency.

This includes:

  • Allocating funds to tackle harder, more expensive home improvement measures like solid wall insulation
  • Bringing in a minimum energy efficiency standard for all buildings
  • Provide greater support and incentives for home owners to improve their homes
  • Asking for Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funds to be devolved to the Mayor and for London to receive a fair share. Through energy bills Londoners contribute around 13 per cent to the national scheme that provides funding for eligible households and energy efficiency improvements. But London receives only some 7 per cent of national installations. A reformed scheme would better target hard-to-treat homes and set regional targets.

Find out more
Read more about our Warmer Homes scheme. Our partners at SHINE London and others provide a London-wide service to help with energy efficiency advice, discounts on energy and water bills and gas and electricity debt. Find the free local advice service in your borough.

Please show your support for Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on social media. National Energy Action’s campaign page contains lots of resources to help you spread the word.

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