The Energy Saving Trust  has highlighted the following: There is much talk of a second wave of COVID-19, but until now there has been relatively little discussion about who this wave may hit the hardest.Evidence from Public Health England and a new study from the Fuel Poverty Research Network show that being in fuel poverty puts households more at risk from the worst effects of Covid-19.Public Health England have declared that there is “clear evidence on the links between cold temperatures and respiratory problems. Resistance to respiratory infections is lowered by cool temperatures and can increase the risk of respiratory illness.”

The UK Fuel Poverty Monitor

National Energy Action (NEA) and Energy Action Scotland (EAS) are the UK’s national charities aiming to end fuel poverty. For close to twenty years, they have published a yearly investigative report on progress to eliminate fuel poverty across the UK: the UK Fuel Poverty Monitor.

This year’s UK Fuel Poverty Monitor (UKFPM) reviews the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable energy consumers, and the organisations that work to support them.

They found these five main impacts on fuel poor households:

  1. An increase in energy use, due to more people spending more time at home

  2. A reduction in income, as many jobs were either lost or placed on furlough

  3. Increased affordability issues and therefore debt, leading to energy rationing

  4. Reductions in smart meter/ECO installs

  5. Difficulties in accessing support, especially in digitally excluded households or where English was a second language.

During lockdown, critical support organisations (including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, charities, local authorities and housing providers) had to constrain and adapt their services at a time when they were most needed. In these testing conditions, innovative new ways were found to support vulnerable, fuel-poor households. In summary:

  • 1 in 3 organisations we surveyed had to furlough staff

  • Three quarters of all staff of respondent organisations switched to homeworking

  • Two thirds noted the crisis had a significant or very significant impact on the type and range of services they were able to offer

  • More than 3 in 4 organisations have had to change the way they deliver services to vulnerable households. Almost half of the organisations experienced increases to the number of vulnerable households to whom they provide services

  • Over half of respondents changed how they communicate with partners since the crisis began

Governments and regulators across the UK told NEA that the crisis has had a profound impact. Their priorities and capacity saw dramatic changes, and whilst some policies designed to help fuel poor households have been delayed, quick action was also taken to ensure that vulnerable energy consumers were able to stay on supply during lockdown. In other instances, regulators struggled to secure commitments and mobilise the industry to provide appropriate support.

This mixed response to the unprecedented events (that are still unfolding) has prompted deep concern that fuel poor and vulnerable households could be hit particularly hard over this coming winter.

During the colder months, many people will continue to stay at home for longer periods. Alongside the psychological stress and social isolation caused by the virus, there are fears many will have to choose between heating their home adequately and falling into debt, or rationing their energy use and living in cold damp homes that are dangerous to their health and can shorten their lives. Millions also face this winter in properties that are dangerous or unfit for colder seasons.

To read the Executive Summary follow this: link

To read the full UK Fuel Poverty Monitor, follow this link: