With another harsh winter hitting the UK, thousands will die from cold yet again this year. Not because they haven’t bothered to get a flu jab. Or because they live on the streets, although some of them will go. No, the majority of those who succumb will do so in their own homes, or after having been taken to hospital with respiratory problems. Most will be the elderly. Retired people, who have worked all their lives; hoping to spend their remaining years with some sort of dignity.
They end up afraid to turn on the heating because of the cost. They sit huddled in a chair, wrapped in as many coats or blankets as they can find. Why are they like this, because the insulation in many UK homes is the poorest in Europe.
Although insulation grants are available to help occupiers or landlords bring their properties up to spec, the amount is ridiculously inadequate, meaning thousands miss out. Many of those are the elderly, who never hear about the grants, or don’t know how to go about applying. Now some of the big guns are getting involved. The government is being taken to task for its abysmal handling of energy inefficiency in British homes.
A letter, signed by some 80 unions, businesses, and charities, which have joined together in an effort to push the government into tackling this problem, has recently been delivered to Downing Street.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that subscribers to the Energy Bill Revolution, which includes CEO’s from Barnardo’s and Oxfam; Age UK’s charity director, the Northern Europe head of Knauf Insulation, and Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, pressed the government to provide greater funding to improve heating systems, and increase and improve insulation of UK homes.
The letter states that excessively high heating costs continue to cause serious hardship for millions of households across the country who can least afford it. With the UK’s unenviable record of having homes with the lowest levels of insulation in Europe, a strong new approach is needed to tackle the problem.
With the election just round the corner, the letter’s authors believe now is the time for party leaders to be including the improvement and upgrading of insulation in UK homes, within their party’s manifestos.
With the ever increasing age of the British population, many of the older generation are the ones who suffer most. Having to live off nothing but their state pension and winter fuel allowance, they try to minimise heating their homes when they most need it. Many winter deaths caused by cold and damp could be averted with homes insulated to a respectable standard. Much of the cost of government and local authority Insulation grants, would be recovered from the reduced level of hospitalisations, and premature deaths.
Not only that, it has been estimated that nearly 14-million GBP could be added to the countries coffers annually up to 2030, if a structured plan to tackle heat-loss in homes was put in place by the new government.
While new builds already have to include a high level of property insulation, it’s been estimated that tackling the existing energy inefficient properties, would require the government to invest 8.5-billion GBP over the next five years. Not only would this save the average household something in the region of 335GBP a year, but also provide thousands of jobs for those working within the insulation industry.
It’s an opportunity not to be missed, and pressure from the highest quarter needs to be applied across the political spectrum. Helping to save lives, increasing the quality of life for those most in need, and providing jobs such as solid wall insulation and upgrading boilers, in an industry still struggling out of recession.
A British expat who has lived on this Island of Tenerife for over twelve years.A full time freelance writer, most of my time is spent article writing. I also write on D2C, Writedge, and wherever takes my fancy. For fun I try to increase my portfolio of short stories, with a view to eventually getting them published.