Heating trade association calls on the government to consider fuel poverty in its heating strategy
The oil heating industry trade association, OFTEC, has called on the UK government to address the issue of fuel poor householders in England and Wales. Recent figures suggest more than 10% are living in the cold. This is because of their inability to afford suitable heating resources.
Data concerning fuel poverty released last year by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that 2.38 million householders in England and Wales are residing in conditions colder than temperatures considered safe for domestic living. This is an increase of 1.4% compared to previous years’ figures.
The data shows a total of 43,850 excess winter deaths (EWD) occurred in the year 2014/15 in England and Wales. This is the highest recorded number for over 15 years. OFTEC claims that many of these deaths are as a result of poorly heated homes.
The number of EWDs dropped significantly in 2015/16, to 24,300 reported cases. However, the figure for 2014/15 was higher than average due to a severe flu outbreak and an inadequate flu vaccine. Despite the decreased figure for 2015/16, the number of EWDs for that year was around 39% higher than in 2013/14.
Rural areas are at the most risk
OFTEC chief executive Paul Rose said that deaths caused by fuel poverty are more prevalent in rural areas in England and Wales. He claims this is due to insufficient energy efficiency levels found in the housing stock.
Mr Rose said that poor insulation and outdated heating and boiler systems are leading to increased energy bills. Many vulnerable people simply can not afford to pay them.
He added: “In this day and age it is totally unacceptable that so many people are still dying from the cold because they can’t afford to adequately heat their homes… OFTEC urges government to consider this reality when re-shaping the UK’s heating strategy.”
OFTEC believes the government’s current major heating energy efficiency schemes, the ECO initiative and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), do not sufficiently cover energy efficiency. The RHI focuses mainly on carbon reduction and renewable energy sources.
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