Over 100,000 children in the North East are suffering the biting cold this winter, and with rising fuel bills looming, a charity is calling for action.
National Energy Action’s (NEA) Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is taking place on Friday 17 February and aims to raise awareness of the importance of being able to live in a warm, comfortable home. The charity says the plight of young people who are unable to stay warm and healthy in their homes is not being addressed fast enough and the charity is warning the impact on them accessing equal life chances is particularly stark.
Tragically, half a million dependent children live in the coldest homes with the worst energy efficiency rating. Fuel poverty often results in social isolation, which is a risk factor for depression. It also means families may need to choose between heating and spending on food – and as a result children can be malnourished. It even impacts on education; a study in Cornwall showed that children living in damp conditions lost 9.3 days per 100 school days because of asthma. This was reduced to 2.1 days after central heating was installed in their bedrooms. So energy improvements to the home can make a big difference.
However not £1 of public money is going to be spent on improving energy efficiency in England. It is the only nation without a government-funded energy efficiency programme for the first time in over 30 years. This is despite domestic energy consumers contributing an estimated £14 billion to the Treasury this Parliament, £30 billion over 10 years. Reversing this amongst other recent trends would help improve the quality of life for those living in the UK.
The film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ shows a struggling single mum with two children in fuel poverty. BAFTA winning actor Dave Johns supports the campaign. He said: “I’m backing NEA’s Warm Homes Campaign to highlight what help is available to cope with rising energy bills as winter takes hold, and demand more support from government.”
NEA has highlighted that we will not see an end to the cold home crisis in the lifetime of a baby born today; we are currently up to 80 years behind government targets. As she grows up living in fuel poverty, her health and well-being will be seriously affected.
Maria Wardrobe, Director of Communications and External Affairs at NEA said: “It is completely unacceptable that in the 21st century people are still becoming ill and dying needlessly in the UK because they live in cold homes. Living in a cold damp home can lead to extremely poor health, especially in those who are vulnerable such as young children, older people, and those with long term sickness and disabilities. Not only will it be causing misery for millions of people this winter, but also placing a huge strain on our already stretched health services.”
“We know that about 139490 households in the North East are currently in fuel poverty and will be making difficult daily choices. We’ve developed resources to direct people to help and advice as part of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, these can be found on our website.”
Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is coordinated by NEA and is being supported by many organisations across the region and the UK. For more information, or for details on how to take part in its fundraising event, Nation’s Biggest Housewarming, go to http://www.nea.org.uk/campaigns-policy/fuel-poverty-awareness-day/.