This week I had the pleasure of visiting Westminster for the launch event of a very worthy campaign.
I made the journey from Newcastle – where the weather was extremely wet – to a very windy (but thankfully dry) London for the launch of the Warm Homes Campaign by national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA).
Invited guests included MPs, energy companies, charities, government organisations as well as those working directly to help and support people in fuel poverty.
What is the Warm Homes Campaign?
This winter, working-age individuals and families on low incomes are facing a perfect storm of cuts to benefits, poor earnings growth, the roll-out of universal credit, and above-inflation rises in the cost of essential goods and services (including energy) says NEA.
New research released by NEA estimates that more than one million families in England alone are facing a gap of almost £800 each month between their income and the amount that they need to spend to meet even a basic standard of living.
£800 a month.
That’s an extra £9,000 a year that an average lone parent in fuel poverty would have to find to achieve even the minimum quality of life for their family.
For many people this means making some tough choices:
- They could cut down on the amount of food they buy. Perhaps going from three meals a day to one or two cold ones – even though increases the likelihood of becoming ill.
- They could only heat one room of the house, but the children may struggle at school because there isn’t somewhere warm and quiet to do their homework.
- They could keep using old unsafe boilers, or ancient electric heaters, even though it could put their family at risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
- They could stop using their heating altogether, although it will make their home damp and worsen breathing conditions such as asthma.
- Or they could not pay bills or rent, use credit cards and payday loans, and risk debt and homelessness.
In the face of the challenges NEA has outlined five key actions to boost incomes and reduce costs for the poor this winter:
The Warm Homes Campaign raises awareness of the challenges faced by those in fuel poverty, the difficult choices they are having to make, and the solutions available.
This short Spark video also explains the campaign:
The event launch also coincided with the release of the Excess Winter Deaths figures.
Excess Winter Deaths are the second highest for five years.
2016/17 saw 34,300 Excess Winter Deaths in England and Wales (provisional data).
Shockingly 34,300 of these are attributable to cold homes (based on WHO, 2011).
You can see the full official data here.
This shows that the Warm Homes Campaign is absolutely needed and that action must be taken before more people lose their lives.
The Warm Homes Campaign runs until Friday, February 23 2018 which is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.
You can follow the campaign on Twitter by searching for #WarmHomesCampaign.
If you’d like more information please visit the NEA website.