More than 200,000 households are set to fall into fuel poverty as the economy tumbles amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s the suggestion from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, which warns a second wave of the virus arriving during colder weather could be “catastrophic for individuals and health services”.
Fuel poverty is characterised by low income, high fuel prices, poor energy efficiency, unaffordable housing and poor quality rental buildings – at 2.4 million households in England are currently suffering from fuel poverty, making up around a tenth of the population.
The coalition highlights that Public Health England have declared that there is “clear evidence on the links between cold temperatures and respiratory problems” and notes resistance to respiratory infections is lowered in wintertime.
The Coalition has urged the government to build on the efficiency measures outlined in its Summer Statement and called on it to take urgent action to save lives and help address the financial impact of the current crisis before winter.
William Baker, from Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty and member of the Coalition, said: “It has never been more important for the government to fix the roof while the sun is shining.
“While it is summer now, colder temperatures are on the way and hundreds of thousands more people will feel the harsh reality of fuel poverty. In just a few months we could see a perfect storm of cold homes, high winter fuel bills and a future wave of COVID-19 hitting the NHS during winter – a period when it always struggles to maintain services.”