5 February 2018
In Gloucestershire, there are over 30,000 households in fuel poverty and this can have significant social, economic and health effects. Fuel poverty is calculated by gauging if a household’s income would fall below the official poverty line after spending the actual amount needed to heat the home. Although fuel poverty is widely recognised in the UK and it impacts nearly 11% of the population (around 54 million people) across Europe, less than a third of EU countries officially recognise fuel poverty; only a few have an official definition in their national legislation. Our work within the EU Build to Low Carbon project has spread the word to other nations in the bid to reduce fuel poverty within and beyond the UK.
Irena Križ Šelendi?, Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning, Croatia attended our Fuel Poverty Seminar in June 2017 and was so inspired she returned to Croatia and established a working group to tackle fuel poverty in her own nation. This February, Severn Wye and Dr Harriet Thompson, from the European Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV), Manchester University, will share expertise from the UK and the good practice demonstrated by our flagship domestic energy advice scheme, Warm & Well, to establish similar programmes in Croatia. We will also be hosting representatives from Slovenia and Poland at our Highnam offices on Wednesday 7 February to share expertise about fuel poverty, including the Warm & Well programme and Link to Energy, our local network of sustainable energy installers.
This sharing of good practice is timely with the launch of the European Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV) on 29 January. This has been established to raise the profile and reduce the impact of fuel poverty across Europe.
Victoria Boynton, Senior Project Manager at Severn Wye said: “It is great to see that the work within a rural county in the UK is directly influencing governmental policy in another country. What matters most is that this sharing of knowledge and good practice can improve – and even save – lives elsewhere.’
Sharing knowledge and understanding about strategies to reduce fuel poverty and the direct links to health is particularly important at a time when there are pressures on public funding and increasing financial constraints on citizens. In this climate, it is encouraging to see that our efforts to tackle fuel poverty here in Gloucestershire are creating a ripple effect that will see millions of Europeans live in warmer, healthier homes in the coming years.