Five questions on: Battling fuel poverty


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Isn’t the Government sorting this problem out?

It’s trying to. A  spokesman said this week: “We are improving the UK’s housing to help over 1.3 million homes, on top of an investment of over half a billion pounds in energy efficiency.”

But the problem remains? 

With just under 1 million older people living in fuel poverty, many cannot afford to heat their homes to a sufficient temperature in order to keep warm and well, the charity Age UK warned this week. It pointed out that each winter, one older person dies every seven minutes from cold weather, and excess winter death and illness rates are highest among those living in the coldest homes. The charity’s research suggests one in three older people are worried about whether they’ll be able to afford to heat their homes this winter.

That’s really shocking. What can be done about it? 

Age UK has called for a programme to improve Britain’s ageing housing stock. Its Spread the Warmth campaign is calling on the Government to commit to upgrading all homes to meet higher energy-efficiency standards.

Is there support for this? 

Caroline Flint, Labour’s shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, seems to agree. She said this week: “One of the main reasons our energy bills are so high is that our homes are some of the least energy-efficient in Europe – leaking heat from their roofs, walls and windows.”

Is it likely to happen? 

Probably not under the current Government because of the cost. But Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, said: “We realise a national infrastructure project of this scale would require major investment. But not only would it reduce illness and deaths among older people, it would also cut associated costs to the NHS and create jobs and growth.”

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