Fuel poverty is the inability to keep warm in your own home. This can be down to low incomes, high costs because you can’t afford the heating bills and or/ because your heating system is inadequate and you don’t have the money to sort it out. Poor housing‚ low incomes and a need for more heat than usual combine to cause fuel poverty. A fuel poor household is one which needs to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use and to heat its home to an adequate standard of warmth.
Fuel poverty is growing and deepening. Over the last ten years‚ average domestic electricity and gas bills increased by over 50% and 40% respectively. Increasing energy prices and housing costs are bad news for everyone‚ but affects those in fuel poverty the most. In 2019 more than 341,000 households in London can’t afford to heat their homes properly. This fuel poverty leads to poor thermal comfort and deepens health inequalities. It can even lead to death. Excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2017/18 were the highest on record since 1975/76. 16,890 of the 56,300 excess winter deaths recorded 2017/18 were identified as preventable and the result of living in a cold home.
The SHINE network comprises of partners across the public sector (e.g. NHS, London Fire Brigade, Local Authorities), charity sector (e.g. London Cares, Shelter, Trussell Trust, Red Cross) and private sector (e.g. Energy Companies, water suppliers, Distribution Network Operators). Our partners help to identify households who are struggling to heat their homes and therefore at risk of fuel poverty as well as offering interventions and referral routes for existing SHINE clients (e.g. fire safety checks, befriending services, utility bill discounts and support in power cuts).
Our Energy Doctors focus on physical and behavioural changes which can reduce energy usage and costs. The Energy Doctor can review energy bills, check heating controls, contact suppliers and fit energy efficient measures. The measures which are may be provided as part of the home visit are as follows:
The SHINE hub offer support to clients in arrears with their gas or electricity supplier. Advice and support varies on a case by case basis but tends to cover: