With the UK economy projected to be suffering the biggest economic downturn in 300 years, Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is more poignant than ever.
Phil Burrows, Cadent’s Customer Vulnerability Social Programmes Delivery Manager, highlights how Britain’s biggest gas distribution network is working with Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS) to lift people out of fuel poverty
We’re coming into winter, that time of the year that conjures up images of cosy scenes of friends and families snuggled around log fires enjoying fun, laughter and warmth.
Coronavirus restrictions mean this winter may be different to the norm but wherever we are, whoever we’re with and whatever we’re doing, we’ll all want to be warm.
Today (Friday 27 November) is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2020 an apt time to reflect on the acute challenges that people will be facing this year and how we’re playing our part in helping to address them.
According to Government figures UK GDP was 25% lower in April than it was in February and that in September GDP overall GDP was 8% lower in September than it was before the outbreak. In early November the Bank of England forecast UK GDP growth of -11% in 2020 and +7¼% in 2021. [i]
Businesses have closed, unemployment has soared and those already struggling with energy costs have been joined by many more who have lost jobs and businesses in what the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak this week described as the biggest economic downturn in 300 years.
With the lockdowns, restrictions, unemployment and many more than usual working from home, people are spending a lot more time in their homes, meaning their heating costs will inevitably rise.
Being forced to live without the basic human right of a warm, dry home is an unacceptable injustice in modern society.
Connecting people to the gas distribution network is one of the most cost-effective ways of dealing with fuel poverty as it offers cheaper bills.
Fighting fuel poverty is something Cadent is passionate about. Since we were established in 2017, we’ve been working with Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS) to lift people out of fuel poverty by providing free connections to the gas distribution network.
Since it was established in 2008 Cadent, AWS has provided over £200m in lifetime energy savings costs for households. Over 231,500m of new gas mains have also been laid, more than £147.5m paid, 16,700 community heating schemes have been completed and over 25,000 individual gas connections made.
The scheme has bought tremendous benefits to both physical and mental health as well as people’s ability to pursue their goals and dreams and we’ve continued to support AWS roll out affordable warmth schemes across our network since March.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak we reckoned that there were around four million households still struggling with unaffordable and inadequate heating, that figure has likely increased substantially since then.
There’s still a long way to go in the war on fuel poverty and 2020 has really reemphasised that.
A warm home is something you take for granted, if you’ve got one and as 2020 has reemphasised there is still a long way to go in the war on fuel poverty.
It’s important that those struggling with heating costs know that cheaper heating options could be out there, and I’d encourage people to investigate the affordable warmth schemes available.
- For more on AWS visit www.affordablewarmthsolutions.org.uk or call 0121 592 0181.
- Another scheme Connected for Warmth was also launched in 2019, for more information and to apply visit www.connectedforwarmth.org.uk or call 0800 029 4547.
House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number 8866, 13 November 2020 Coronavirus Economic Impact By Daniel Harari and Matthew Keep