How does fuel poverty actually affect tenants’ lives?
In 2020, 3.16 million homes in England were in fuel poverty. It is being predicted that by January 2023, more than 18 million households will be in fuel poverty due to the increase in energy price caps and the cost-of-living crisis. A large portion of these households will exist in Social Housing settings.
Some effects of this are obvious. Not being able to heat your home adequately and being cold is uncomfortable, but what else is affected by the cold?
Effect on health
Fuel poverty, through living in homes which are too cold, can contribute to health issues such as respiratory diseases, heart diseases, circulatory diseases, and mental health problems. This directly links to excess winter deaths, repeat visits to GPs and hospital admissions.
During cold weather resistance to respiratory infection and lung function is lowered, leading to an increase in respiratory illness and reactions to existing health conditions such as asthma. This can be seen in studies that have found that visits to GPs for respiratory tract infections increase 19% for every 1 degree drop below 5 degrees. The average UK temperature in the winter months is between 0-7degrees, meaning that those in fuel poverty are at a very high risk of these health issues.
Further to this, research suggests that deaths for cardiovascular disease is 22.9% higher in winter months than at any other time of year. When temperatures fall below 12 degrees circulation is affected, blood pressure is raised, and the risk of heart attacks and strokes is heightened.
There is clear evidence linking home temperatures with mental health. Evaluation of the governments Warm Home Scheme found that an increase in room temperature was associated with a reduced likelihood of experiencing depression and anxiety. Further to this another study found that children and young adults living in cold homes were more at risk of multiple mental health symptoms.
Excess Winter Deaths
With the direct link between fuel poverty and declining health, there is no surprise that fuel poverty directly links to excess winter deaths. It is estimated in winter 2020/21 there were 63,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales. This is 6.1 times higher than then winter previous and the highest figures since winter 1969/70.
This winter is predicted to be worse than last, with more than two thirds of households expected to be in fuel poverty, including 86.4% of pensioner couples who are at an increased risk of extreme illness and death during the colder months.
See what WarmZilla has to say about fuel poverty in the UK.
How Vericon Systems can help
Through the use of Vericon Systems connected devices in your properties you can not only identify when a tenant is experiencing fuel poverty, but also help them remotely.
Effect on the housing provider
Cold homes lead to excess condensation and ultimately damp and mould issues. Damp and mould are factors that are noted by the Fitness for Human Habitation Act and therefore are grounds for a claim.
These claims are costing housing provider on average £9500 each, with some housing providers spending £2.4 million having 250 active claims.
Unless housing providers act now to protect themselves against fraudulent claims, claims and their costs will continue to grow.
How Vericon Systems can help
Vericon Systems can help you break the disrepair claims cycle in your properties through the use of smart connected devices in your properties.
Now is the time to act, not only protect yourself from claims but also to protect your tenants from fuel poverty this winter.