Scrap the Green Deal

20th November, 2013

New Age UK figures reveal resistance to flagship scheme despite prevalence of cold homes

New government figures published today show a profound lack of interest in the Green Deal, according to Age UK, with only 219 households having completed work under its flagship scheme since its launch.1 New research for the charity,2 also published today to mark the launch of its new warm homes campaign, found that nearly 70% of older people would not consider using the Green Deal, despite one in five – over two million older people – admitting that their homes would benefit from being more energy efficient.

A third of those surveyed for the charity (31%) admitted they had to wear extra layers to keep warm at home last winter, and one in eight – around 1.3 million older people – said their home wasn't warm enough. Yet despite awareness of the Green Deal being reasonably high, the polling results suggest that older people have a range of concerns about the scheme. The reasons most frequently given by a sixth (16%) of older people for not wanting to take up the Green Deal were financial, such as cost and worry about getting into debt.

The Green Deal aims to help people make energy-saving home improvements which they pay for through their energy bill. But Age UK's new research, together with the latest disappointing set of Green Deal take-up figures, clearly show that the scheme in its current form isn't working for older people. Age UK strongly believes that a different, more radical approach is needed if the government is serious about tackling the national scandal of cold homes, spiralling energy prices, and high levels of fuel poverty.

Through its warm homes campaign – part of the charity’s annual Spread the Warmth Campaign – and in collaboration with the Energy Bill Revolution coalition,3 Age UK is calling on the government to invest the billions of pounds raised through carbon taxes into a bigger, more ambitious programme to improve the energy efficiency of homes across the UK. Such a programme could lift nine out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty as well as greatly reducing people’s bills.4 The UK has the worst insulated housing stock in Europe and a shameful record on fuel poverty – more than a million older people can’t afford to heat their homes adequately5 and many millions more are struggling to pay their energy bills.

The charity is warning that this winter, as many as 24,000 older people may not survive because of the cold weather – that’s 200 deaths a day that could be prevented.6 Research shows that exposure to the cold can have a devastating impact on the health of older people, who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of low temperatures. Cold temperatures not only raise blood pressure which puts people at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes, they also increase the likelihood and severity of flu, chest infections and other respiratory problems.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director for Age UK, said: “The government’s flagship Green Deal is clearly failing to deliver what it set out to achieve. With one in five older people saying they would benefit from energy efficiency measures, despite more than two thirds saying they wouldn’t consider taking up the scheme, the government has a big task ahead to insulate Britain against the relentless energy price hikes and cold weather.

“We firmly believe that the only sustainable way to solve the problem is to implement a far more ambitious energy efficiency programme rather than using short-term measures to cut bills. Addressing the needs of the fuel poor in the upcoming Autumn Statement will warm the hearts of many older people – no-one should be cold in their own home.”

The charity is also urging people to tell their MP that we need warm homes. Anyone who wants to add their voice to the campaign can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk or call 0800 028 5535 to order a postcard to send to their MP.

During the Spread the Warmth Campaign, Age UK and its local and national partners will be working hard to help older people keep warm and well in a number of ways, including through winter benefit checks and handyperson services. They will provide hot nutritious meals at local lunch clubs as well as home visits and friendly telephone calls through befriending services for those who may feel isolated. Age UK also offers information and advice 365 days a year and older people and their families can call Age UK Advice free on 0800 169 65 65.

Age UK is urging older people and their friends and family to be prepared this winter. People can make a donation by calling 0800 169 87 87, visiting www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk or donating £5 by texting WARMTH to 70004.

Source: Age UK

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