2.5 million more older people face fuel poverty next year

Centre for Ageing Better issues health warning for those having to cut back, and describes the figures as “profoundly shocking”.

New figures show that 2.5 million people aged over 60 will enter fuel poverty from April if there is no additional Government support: a 25% increase on this year’s numbers.

The statistics, from National Energy Action, also show that 1.8 million carers will also be struggling to keep their homes warm along with 3.6 million people living with a disability.

Recent national polling figures show that 81% of the country plan to ration energy this winter while 13% are already reducing the use of medical equipment.

Holly Holder, Deputy Director for Homes at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “It is profoundly shocking to see fuel poverty on this scale and to see the high proportion of older households that are being affected.

“While the government has made a significant financial commitment to try to limit the impact of unprecedented energy price rises, the Energy Price Guarantee is only a very expensive temporary sticking plaster and can’t undo years of neglecting to keep homes in a good condition. We have some of the oldest and least energy efficient housing in Europe and the solutions put forward so far have failed to come close to matching the scale of the problem.

“The Local Government Association (LGA) projects that poorly insulated homes will leak £12.7 billion of energy over two years. This is bad news financially for individuals and families, as well as the government and has significant implications for the environment and this country’s net zero ambitions.

“Fuel poverty is not only a financial catastrophe for families and individuals, it presents a substantial health risk too. Around 10,000 people die in cold homes every year. Older people are already cutting back more on energy use in the home, more than any other age group.

“If financial hardship forces older people to cut back even more this winter, it could be extremely damaging to their health and will have a knock-on impact on an NHS that is already severely under pressure.

“The LGA highlights that the homes that are least energy efficient in England are more likely to be occupied by older people and those on lower incomes, with more than 60 per cent of over-65s living in England’s least energy-efficient homes. More than 80% of the homes that will exist in 2050 have already been built today, so we need to find a way to ensure that these homes remain safe and warm for the years and decades to come, particularly in view of our ageing population.

“That is why we desperately need a national retrofit programme that reaches a much larger proportion of the country’s homes than the recently announced ECO+ scheme. To deliver such a large undertaking effectively, every community should have an independent, one-stop-shop offering trusted advice and support to help people make their homes warmer and safer.”

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