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Fuel Poverty: Health

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent assessment he has made of the effects of fuel poverty on health. (304338)

The Government recognise the effects of fuel poverty on health and has a strong package of measures to tackle the three root causes: poor energy efficiency, high fuel prices and low household income. It has not carried out a detailed assessment of the impacts of fuel poverty on health,

Since 2000, over £20 billion has been spent on a range of benefits and programmes to tackle fuel poverty. Improving the energy efficiency of a home is key to assisting those at risk from the cold and the Government have a number of established and new initiatives such as Warm Front, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target and the Community Energy Savings Programme to help. We improve the income of vulnerable households through winter fuel and cold weather payments alongside the wider tax and benefit system and look at ways to cut the cost of energy that is supplied to them through a robust system of regulation aiming to protect all consumers. The recently introduced Energy Bill will set a framework for schemes that will require energy suppliers to provide a specified level of social price support (direct assistance with energy bills) to more of the most vulnerable customers.

Each year the Department of Health launches its “Keep Warm, Keep Well” campaign, offering important advice to older people on how to stay fit and healthy through the winter. The Department of Health’s involvement in four major health related campaigns to target Warm Front grants increased referral numbers over the previous year by around 8 per cent. In addition, their seasonal flu vaccination programme is one of the most successful in Europe.