Fuel poverty remains a huge challenge. Not only does it lead to vulnerable people struggling to keep their homes warm enough, cold homes also have a range of further harmful and costly impacts: deteriorating health and wellbeing, social isolation and increased hazards such as falls – worry, stress and strain.
BRE/CIEH estimate that the cost of poor housing to the NHS is over £1.4bn. Nearly 5 million homes in England (21% of all homes) still fail to meet the decent homes standard and 26% of older households live in non-decent housing (English Housing Survey 2013/14). Age UK estimates that 1.14m older people live in fuel poverty.
Cold homes can affect or exacerbate a range of health problems including respiratory problems, circulatory problems and increased risk of poor mental health.
Children living in cold homes are more than twice as likely to suffer from a variety of respiratory problems than children living in warm homes, significant negative effects are also evident in children’s weight gain, hospital admissions, developmental status and severity and frequency of asthma.
HIAs provide help to people who are elderly, vulnerable or have long-term illnesses and are finding it hard to heat and insulate their homes. They help through small measures such as draught proofing, bleeding radiators, boiler repairs, through to insulation and providing advice on energy efficiency and switching providers if necessary.
The Warm at Home programme
A £637k programme managed by the charity Foundations Independent Living Trust has helped 3,600 people stay in their own home warm, safe and well over a 12 month period. Read the evaluation report by the Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University.