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The coldest Government ever

In the bleak midwinter, Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone;

Figures released today show that ‘winter deaths’ in the year 2014-2015 were the highest since 1999. 43,000 ‘extra’ winter deaths is the chilling (sorry) headline.

Fuel poverty is a big part of this. Not all of the story, true, but, generally, people who fall ill in well-heated, well-ventilated ‘healthy’ homes, tend to get better, more quickly than people who don’t. Fact.

So, in the light of this, why has this Government taken the scalpel to as many policies and initiatives designed to reduce fuel poverty as it can? Do they just not care or are they so fixated on the holy grail of deficit reduction that they fail to see what’s clear to anyone in this industry: a better insulated housing stock will reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels, will help to reduce our collective energy bills and CO2 emissions and could prevent thousands upon thousands of unnecessary deaths. Or, to look at it from a cold, hard cash point of view: prevent unnecessary burden on the NHS during the high-pressure winter months.

Allow me to share some scary facts from those stalwarts at the Energy Bill Revolution as they can express this much more eloquently than I can:

  • 4.5 million – the number of households that received energy efficiency improvements during the last Parliament (2010-2015);
  • 1 million – the number of households that will receive energy efficiency improvements under Conservative Government plans for this Parliament (2015-2020);
  • 78% – The reduction in the number of households that will receive energy efficiency improvements over the next 5 years if only 1 million households are helped
  • 270 – The number of years it would take to make all UK homes energy efficient (EPC Band C) if Government only insulates 1 million homes over the next 5 years with 1 measure each and trend continues.
  • 35 – The number of years we have left to de-carbonise UK homes to help avoid dangerous climate change
  • 4.5 million – the number of fuel poor homes in the UK
  • 2.3 million – the number of fuel poor homes in England
  • 96% – the percentage of fuel poor homes that are poorly insulated
  • 21 million – the number homes in the UK with poor energy efficiency
  • 15 – The number of years the Government have pledged to take in their Fuel Poverty Strategy to make all fuel poor homes energy efficient (EPC Band C);
  • 94 – The number of years it will take to make all fuel poor homes energy efficient (EPC Band C) if no new funding is provided
  • 1 – The average number of energy efficiency improvements installed per home under the Government’s flagship programme, the Energy Company Obligation
  • 3 – The average number of additional energy efficiency improvements needed to make a fuel poor home energy efficient (EPC Band C);
  • · £386 – How much more a fuel poor household needs to pay to stay warm compared to an average UK household
  • £1,274 – How much more a fuel poor household living in an EPC G rated home needs to pay to stay warm compared to an average UK household
  • £100 billion – The amount of public funds the Chancellor will allocate to infrastructure projects over the next 5 years
  • £0 – The amount of infrastructure funds so far allocated to fix the UK energy inefficient housing stock
  • £8.7 billion – the economic return from insulating the UK housing stock.
  • 26% – The reduction in gas imports that could be achieved if all homes were made energy efficient (at least Band C);
  • 24,940 – The average number of Excess Winter Deaths each year in England and Wales
  • 27,405 – The average number of Excess Winter Deaths each year in the UK. More die from cold homes than alcohol, Parkinson’s or traffic accidents.
  • 14/16 – The UK’s ranking on fuel poverty in Western Europe
  • 16/16 – The UK’s ranking in western Europe for the proportion of people who cannot afford to adequately heat their home

    This Government should read these figures and hang its head in shame.

  • About Fiona Russell-Horne

    Fiona Russell-Horne
    Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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