Feb 17

Tackling fuel poverty improves health and well-being

Warm Homes Campaign logoA baby born today and living in cold housing is more than twice as likely to experience breathing problems including asthma and bronchitis, and three times as likely to experience wheezing and respiratory illness. The baby’s chances of experiencing mental health problems are also higher.

Today, around four million UK households live in a cold, damp home and are unable to access equal life chances.

For the last three months, the Warm Homes Campaign organised by the charity National Energy Action has been raising awareness of the importance of being able to live in a warm, comfortable home.

One of the biggest barriers to achieving that aim is the cost of heating homes, which is why I am backing today’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.

National Energy Action has worked with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency to highlight some of the best practice being carried out by local councils.

Liverpool City Council’s Healthy Homes programme brings together help and advice with practical support on keeping homes warmer. It is one of just a few councils around the country that properly funds a team of environmental health officers who can use enforcement powers to make unwilling landlords improve properties if there are health and safety risks to their tenants.

Healthy Homes has supported around 46,000 initial assessments resulting in 22,000 referrals for additional support over the past seven years.

The programme estimates that it has saved the NHS around £55 million over a 10-year period, while the enforcement work has made private landlords invest an additional £5.5 million.

It is proof that a relatively small investment in long-term, preventative support carried out by local councils in partnership with local agencies can make a huge difference and actually save money in the long-term, as well as improve the health and wellbeing of people.

As a local MP, I have referred a number of constituents to this service, who have gone on to see improvements to their homes. Please get in touch by clicking here, or you can find out more about the Healthy Homes initiative by clicking here.