The winter is a tough time for anybody who has difficulty heating their home, but there are practical steps that can be taken - aside from a complete overhaul of the heating system - which can minimise cold and maximise savings for tenants and landlords alike. Joe Bradbury of Housing Association Magazine investigates:
We live in difficult times. The rapid increase in energy prices forces good people into bad debt for necessities such as warmth and water. It seems that despite living in the age of great excess, many find themselves existing day-to-day – surviving Britain.
Heating or eating?
Recent studies indicate that food bank use has increased exponentially over the last 12 months, painfully revealing how miserably welfare benefits fail to cover basic living costs. Figures from the UK’s national food bank, the Trussel Trust show that in the year running up to March 2018, 1,332,952 three-day emergency food supplies were delivered to people in crisis across Britain. People can’t afford to eat, let alone make payment next time an over inflated heating bill lands on their mat.
The UK is the world’s sixth largest economy and that’s a fact, so too is the rise in fuel poverty, where one in ten households is now affected. Terri Taylor, Marketing Executive, Intergas Boilers, discusses the importance of partnership to illuminate, educate and eradicate.
Fuel poverty – a combination of low income, high energy prices and energy inefficient housing – is not new, in fact it’s been a political issue since the early 1970s, but it entered the nation’s conscientiousness almost 20 years later when, in 1991, Dr Brenda Boardman wrote Fuel Poverty. This book became the reference text for anyone interested in this growing problem.
The cap on fuel prices will rise in October, increasing the gap between the cost of energy and what people can afford by 9%. This will undoubtedly worsen the issue of inadequately heated homes nationwide. What can social housing providers do to help their tenants avoid falling into the fuel poverty trap? Joe Bradbury of Housing Association Magazine discusses:
It has now been confirmed that annual energy bills for five million vulnerable households will increase by up to £47 after the UK industry regulator raised the cap on prices for the second time this year on the back of higher wholesale costs.
When a Basingstoke Housing Association was looking at upgrading the heating in 200 of its rural properties to meet the main driver of helping alleviate fuel poverty, it was also able to make a strong business case to fast-track the investment needed.
Sentinel Housing Association owns and manages around 10,000 homes across 12 local authority areas in Hampshire and Surrey.
Sentinel had already scheduled 200 rural off-gas properties for an upgrade over the next five years but these have been fast-tracked to enable tenants to benefit from lower energy bills and better overall temperature control with the installation of air source heat pumps, alongside improvements to future proof the homes.