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Report calls for commitment to help 2.3m households in fuel poverty

A national report, making recommendations as to how government can drive its long-term commitment to helping 2.3million households out of fuel poverty, has been launched today.

Orbit Group, a 39,000-home housing association, and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) have launched the ‘Warm Homes, Better Lives’ report, outlining key recommendations to government to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency of the country’s housing stock.

The report comes at a time when three million families are being forced to choose between heating their home and feeding their family . With government’s existing ECO programme due to end in 2017, targets on winter deaths, fuel poverty, cold homes, and carbon reduction remain a pressing challenge.

The report sets out how government, together with housing, health and third sector partners, can take a comprehensive approach to tackling fuel poverty – making a real difference to fuel-poor households, as well as wider cost savings.

Key recommendations to government include:

  • Early confirmation of post-2017 investment in energy efficiency so that local partnerships have time to develop.
  • Specific investment directed at social landlords to utilise the sector’s experience and ability to deliver at scale.
  • Independent research into the extent to which the NHS can make cash savings as a direct result of retrofit programmes.
  • Development of a strategy for partnership working between health providers,  housing associations and the third sector to jointly tackle fuel poverty .
  • Creation of an innovation fund to stimulate the introduction of new technology and pilot new delivery approaches.

The report follows involved discussions with housing providers, as well as other key partners, and highlights the work of social landlords as ‘change agents’ to deliver community-based retrofit programmes.

Boris Worrall, executive director for Futures at Orbit Group, said: “A partnership approach to tackling the critical and growing issue of fuel poverty is essential. Our report highlights the experience, knowledge and reach of housing, health and local authority partners, as well as the third sector – things the government must maximise to realise its ambitions to reach its fuel poverty targets.”

“Orbit has its own target to bring all its homes to a minimum of band C energy efficiency and we are committed to working with our partners to tackle health, environmental and poverty issues affecting society. We should avoid uncertainty post-2017 by planning for an ECO programme replacement now.”

Chartered Institute of Housing deputy chief executive Gavin Smart said: “We know that people are being forced to choose between heating their home and eating, so it’s desperately important that we start to get a grip on fuel poverty Housing associations, local authorities, health organisations and other third sector partners already play a big role in helping households escape fuel poverty and working in partnership can help maximise the impact of this work. But as the report makes clear there is also a critical role for government to play not least by confirming its commitment to tackling this vitally important issue.”

Read the full report here.