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. In 2014‚ 2.38 million households were estimated to be in fuel poverty‚ up from 2.35 million in 2013 in the UK. 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. Fuel poverty was one of the main reasons for the 43‚900 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2014/15; the highest number since 1999/2000. The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 or over who are vulnerable members of the society.
SHINE takes a holistic approach and takes on both causes and outcomes of fuel poverty to address seasonal health ineq One of the major reasons for SHINE’s success has been because of the wide referral network SHINE has established. The network helps us identify them‚ as their interaction with local services may come through the NHS‚ charities or registered social landlords‚ rather than the council’s fuel poverty team. As part of the network‚ as they are likely to have multiple needs in addition to fuel poverty‚ we can refer them to resolve other issues such as health problems or mobility issues.
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: