Increased risks of cold homes this winter due to COVID-19 pandemic highlights need for proper help and advice

Southampton Healthy Homes can help answer your questions

This winter is going to be challenging for everyone, but particularly for those in fuel poverty. On Friday, 27 November - Fuel Poverty Awareness Day -Southampton City Council and Southampton Healthy Homes want residents to know that help and advice is available to them. 

Southampton Healthy HomesSouthampton has one of the highest fuel poverty rates in Hampshire County, higher than the regional and England average, and in the winter last measured (2018-19) it had more excess winter deaths than the region or England.

Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of low income, high energy costs and inefficient housing. Households in fuel poverty typically have other vulnerabilities such as old age, young children, ill-health and disability. Public Health England and National Energy Action (NEA) have been highlighting some of the impacts that COVID-19 will have on fuel poverty and the increased risk from living in a cold home this winter: 

  • Financial instability caused by COVID-19 will make it more difficult for people to pay their bills and more likely to get into debt, for some this may be the first time they have got into problems and they may not know where to get support 
  • Unemployment, working from home and lockdown means that people will be using more energy and could be spending more time in a cold home 
  • Coping strategies such as only heating (and the whole household spending time in) one room, not ventilating the home to avoid draughts, and seeking out heated public spaces could increase the spread of COVID-19 
  • Householders with respiratory and circulatory health conditions affected by cold weather are likely to be at greater risk from Covid-19 and worsening health caused a cold home could put extra strain on NHS services. 

Cllr Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, said: "I want all residents -- including those with low-incomes or who've experienced economic hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic -- to know that you don't have to suffer in the cold in your own home. The Southampton Healthy Homes Team can help you to switch your energy tariff of supplier or determine if you're eligible for funding for home energy upgrades, such as heating improvements, insulation and draught proofing. They can advise you on the best ways to heat your property or tackle condensation and mould and even support you to live a healthier more sustainable lifestyle.

"Improving the energy efficiency of our housing to help to keep tenants’ bills low and reduce fuel poverty is a big part of our council home building plans. That's why we're investing £144M to build hundreds of much-needed new homes delivered across the city." 

Adam Goulden, Chief Executive at the Environment Centre said: “Everyone should be able to live in a warm and comfortable home that does not negatively affect their health and wellbeing. It’s great that we’ve been able to help so many vulnerable residents over the years, but there is still lots to do to make this a reality for all fuel poor households. We anticipate that with the impact of COVID-19, this winter will be even tougher for those in fuel poverty and the risk of getting into fuel poverty will be increased for other households, many of whom may be getting into difficulty for the first time and therefore may not know where to go for support. We urge anyone struggling to keep warm and well to get in touch."

Contact Southampton Healthy Homes

Tel: 0800 804 8601 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm)

Email: keepwarm@environmentcentre.com

Website: Southampton Healthy Homes