Reasons to be Cheerful Podcast: 5 takeaways from the latest episode

A roundup of the Reasons to be Cheerful Podcast


In the second instalment of our roundup of the Reasons to be Cheerful podcast, I take a look at five takeaways from the latest episode on ‘Warmer homes for all’, highlighting the scale of the problem facing households up and down the country when it comes to fuel poverty and what can be done to help.

While the government has announced a package of measures to help households, there’s still a lot more than can be done to help the poorest and most vulnerable. So here are 5

takeaway’s from the latest episode which can be found here.

1.A further 2 million households will be in fuel poverty next month, bringing the total number to 6 million

A total of 6 million households will be in fuel poverty next month as a result of rising energy costs as well as tax hikes and the cost of living crisis, according to Adam Scorer from National Energy Action. Torsten Bell from the Resolution Foundation says that what’s going to happen in April is going to be a ‘cost of living catastrophe’ and that the scale of rise in the energy costs is unprecedented.

2. The government’s plan to help the poorest won’t work

As the cost of living crisis has taken hold, Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged a package of support offering what he called a ‘£350 rebate’ to help people pay their bills.

Sunak has said that 80% of all homes in England will get a £150 discount on their council tax bill in April, while all domestic electricity customers will get £200 in October off their energy bills.

Torsten says that the best way to help the poorest households is through targeted support, raising the incomes of the poorest rather than going for the universal approach that Sunak has opted for. In addition, the £200 isn’t a rebate, it’s a loan that people will have to pay back and is based on the crucial assumption that energy bills won’t be higher in the years to come, as the chancellor demands his money back.

As for the £150 discount on council tax bills, Torsten points out how lots of poor people who live in high council tax band properties won’t receive mich help. The support he says is ‘not well targeted at income but price of property as it was valued in 1990s’.

3. The cost of living crisis is also causing ‘mental anguish and distress’

Adam Scorer tells us just how much of a devastating impact the cost of living crisis is having on people, not just physically but also mentally.

“You have a lot of cases where people’s living circumstances, their concerns are not just a deficit between income and expenditure, they say ‘I’ve been living with the cold and damp all my life we don’t have hot baths we don’t have hot food, we heat one room in winter or just heat my children’s room for an hour at beginning or end of day.”

It’s also leading to mental health difficulties, an issue so often neglected when looking at  the impact of the cost of living crisis.

People who had been used to spending time in warm public places such as libraries have had that taken away from them during the pandemic.

4. Those on pre-payment meters will be hit hardest

Not everyone will be affected equally with the cost of living crisis, with those from poorer and low-income households particularly disadvantaged. What’s often forgotten is that there are 4 million people on pre-payment meters in the country, many of whom are already experiencing severe financial distress.

The choice for those on pre-payment meters isn’t so much to accrue debt or keep warm, it’s ‘can I physically put money on to the meter’. It’s particularly difficult for such households, as they are more often than not on a pre-payment meter because of previous problems with debt.

5. Innovative schemes in local communities can also be used to help with the cost of living crisis

Dr Elizabeth Blakelock who has worked with Citizens Advice says there are a number of innovative schemes embedded in local communities which can help people with the cost of living crisis.

Dr Blakelock highlights how in Glasgow, schemes embedded in local communities had been set up to help people understand their particular energy needs on a tailored basis. She also highlighted effective pilots where schemes work closely with healthcare providers. For eg GPs can proscribe people with health needs new boilers so that they can stay warm in their homes.

Such schemes can help combat cold-related ill health while also saving the NHS money.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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