Heaven knows we need a fresh start. With every tweak of the programmes, with every refinement of the strategy, the prospects of a convincing victory on the core front just get more remote. The fuel poor get to make harder and harder choices, the old and the young suffer health setbacks, the misery piles up. Words like national disgrace, scandal, heating or eating, become devalued.
We’ve ended up with a totally perverse delivery system. The general consensus is that an area-based, whole-house approach works best: what we’ve got is market-driven, bench-marked by cost-effectiveness, and funded by the energy companies who can’t deliver at scale because of the impact on consumer bills. We have programmes delivering the least satisfactory outcomes. A Written Parliamentary Answer at the end of January says it all. Citing the latest figures (21 November), it reported the achievements of the Energy Company and Green Deal in 2013. 471,766 measures had been installed in 403,000 houses (an average of 1.17 measures per house – hardly amounting to a whole-house make-over). 394,370 of those measures had been funded by ECO, and 8,485 by householders getting a Green Deal survey then claiming the cashback offer in the scheme. Only 458 had gone ahead with the Green Deal package, including finance. Continue reading
Posted in Consumers, Energy, Spread the Warmth campaign
Tagged #fuelpoverty, #spreadthewarmth, Age UK, Age UK blog, Ageing, ageing population, ageing society, consumers, Energy Company Obligation, fuel bills, fuel poverty, fuel poverty older people, Green Deal, older people, spread the warmth, Spread the Warmth campaign
In 1993, two friends and colleagues of mine alighted from an internal flight in the heart of Siberia. The light was failing and the temperature plummeted as they wound their way from the landing strip into an endless forest. They were lost. Eventually, coming upon a wooden settlement, they found shelter with the village teacher, the only English speaker for many, many miles.
Professor Bill Keatinge later confided in me that he had learned two lessons from this incident. One was to learn Russian (which he later did, with some panache). The second was to dress like the Russians. Because Yakutsk, the city which they had come to visit, is the coldest city in the world. During their trip, the temperature fell to a mere -26C. The lowest winter temperatures reach -60.
And what, may we ask, was the attraction of this cold Siberian city? Ironically, the inhospitable, intractable, bone gnawing cold was the motivation for their journey. They were part of the Eurowinter Group, a collection of Europe’s finest scientists, whose mission was to unravel the complicated story of winter deaths in Europe. Until that time, no-one had a convincing explanation (scientists call this a ‘model’) of the pattern of winter deaths in Europe which varied from one country to another. And the prime question was why on earth should the British Isles, with its temperate maritime climate, be the villain of the piece, with many more ‘excess winter deaths’ than its colder European neighbours? Continue reading
Posted in Campaigning, Energy, Spread the Warmth campaign
Tagged #spreadthewarmth, #warmhomes, affects of cold weather, affects of cold weather on older people, Age UK, Age UK blog, Ageing, ageing population, ageing society, campaign for warm homes, campaigning, cold weather older people, excess winter deaths, fuel poverty, Health, James Goodwin Age UK, older people, reducing winter deaths, spread the warmth, Spread the Warmth campaign, winter, winter deaths
The fuel poverty strategy of 2001 (‘to eradicate fuel poverty by 2016′) has patently failed. A new one is promised in the current Energy Bill, which is completing its Parliamentary stages.
Within six months of the date of the Act receiving Royal Assent (in December or January), the Government is bound to propose a new strategy, after which there will be a public consultation, a Government response, and the tabling of the necessary secondary legislation. This ponderous process means we might not have a new strategy in place till early 2015 (though ministers hope to move faster), but clearly the thinking time has already started.
Age UK, with others, is in constant conversation with the Department of Energy & Climate Change. A key bone of contention is the targets to be set in the strategy, since these will only be real if there is funding to underpin them, and there is considerable uncertainty about the available funds. Continue reading
Posted in Energy, Energy Bill Revolution, Government, Spread the Warmth campaign
Tagged #EnergyBillRev, #energybills, #spreadthewarmth, Age UK, Age UK blog, Ageing, ageing population, ageing society, campaigning, Department of Energy and Climate, energy, Energy Bill Revolution campaign, Energy Bill Revolution coalition, energy bills, energy efficiency, excess winter deaths, fuel poverty, fuel poverty strategy, Government, insulating homes, older people, poorly insulated homes, spread the warmth, Spread the Warmth campaign, winter deaths
At the heart of Age UK’s Warm Homes Campaign lies the conviction that the best way to insulate people from remorseless increases in energy costs and the health risks posed by cold homes is a major house refurbishment programme. The Green Deal was intended to drive that work – and upgrade 4m homes by 2020 – but the six month figures for the scheme are hapless, and we see no room for optimism any time soon.
As of mid-October, there are 219 Green Deal schemes in operation. True, there is a upstream pipeline of house surveys completed and Green Deal plans in preparation, but older householders seem rather underwhelmed. Whilst one in ten say their homes were not warm enough last winter and they would benefit from improved energy efficiency measures, 70% said they would not want a Green Deal. The most frequently cited reasons were aversion to debt, and seeing the ‘loan’ repayment scheme as too expensive. Continue reading
Posted in Campaigning, Consumers, Energy, Energy Bill Revolution, Government, Spread the Warmth campaign
Tagged #EnergyBillRev, #energybills, #spreadthewarmth, #warmhomes, Age UK, Age UK blog, Ageing, ageing population, ageing society, campaign for warm homes, carbon taxes, consumers, Energy Bill Revolution, Energy Bill Revolution coalition, energy bills, Energy Company Obligation, energy prices, fuel poverty, Government, Green Deal, Green Deal not working, Green Deal performing poorly, Mervyn Kohler, Mervyn Kohler Age UK, number of older households using Green Deal, numbers of households using Green Deal, older consumers, older people, poorly insulated homes, spread the warmth, Spread the Warmth campaign, warm homes campaign