Monday 8 April 2013

When I was doing my PhD I met Brenda Boardman who was doing her PhD investigating the then little known or understood problem of fuel poverty. Brenda and I were both funded by the joint committee of what was then the Science and Engineering Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council (I think those were the proper names) – anyway – it was radical stuff for the early 1980s having inter-disciplinary people combining technical subjects with economic and social subjects.


Since then, in a large part down to Brenda and her excellent work, fuel poverty has become an industry and I mean that in a positive way. Of course it should have been an industry that worked itself out of a job by solving the problem. In 2000 the government set a legal target of eliminating fuel poverty among vulnerable consumers by 2010 and all households in England by 2016 (2018 for Wales).


So how are we doing? The numbers in fuel poverty are going up – an estimated 6 million people now spend more than 10% of their income on energy and some estimate it could be 9 million within 3 years. That is shocking. It is a crisis with huge costs to individual health as well as to the health service.


Even more shocking – ‘On average, at least 7,800 people die every year from living in cold homes – more than four times the number of people who die on British roads.’


The solution is clear. Use the money from the carbon tax it collects to super insulate homes in fuel poverty. The Energy Bill Revolution has got it right. Sign the petition and tell the government to ‘just do it’.

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Dr Steven Fawkes

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