18 April 2011
Rising unemployment and increasing fuel prices could lead to far greater fuel poverty unless more is done to invest in energy efficiency, warned the Green Party today.
Households are considered by the Government to be in fuel poverty if they have to spend more than 10% of their household income on fuel just to keep their home in a 'satisfactory condition'.
Research shows that consumers are wasting £2.5 billion because they don't have adequate insulation - of the 26.5 million homes in the UK, just 12.3 million have sufficient loft insulation and only 10.3 million have cavity wall insulation.
The latest figures (2009-10) show that there were 23,100 additional winter deaths among people over the age of 65 in England and Wales. For every additional winter death, there are also around 8 admissions to hospital, 32 to outpatient care and 30 social services calls.
The cost to the NHS has been calculated to be in excess of £1billion.
The Green Party believes that a free insulation scheme for every household that needs it is the way forward. By investing in energy efficiency, thousands of jobs across the country could be created reducing the unemployment figures as well as improving the housing stock.
Investing in energy efficiency is a win, win situation. It helps reduce fuel poverty, tackle climate change, creates employment and generates money for the local economy.
Darren Johnson, Councillor and London Assembly Member, said: "Everyone has the right to have a warm home and be able to pay their fuel bills. Persistently cold homes contribute to misery, ill-health and social exclusion - and the fact that the UK consistently has more winter deaths than countries colder climates is an indication that we have got things wrong.
"We already have the technology to build zero carbon housing and this should be the standard for all new developments."
Green Councillors are leading the way in developing energy efficiency. In Kirklees, Green Councillors delivered a project to provide free loft and cavity insulation to every house that could benefit.
They are providing loans for more expensive insulation measures, loans which only have to be paid back when the property is sold again. Council officers in Kirklees calculate for every £1 that their council spent on a similar insulation scheme, a further £4 was generated in the local economy.