At the start of this week, energy Secretary Ed Davey announced £3m of funding aimed to be used to provide people suffering from cold homes to have radiators, boilers, insulation and double glazing installed to help improve the heating situation at home. These measures are going to be made available via your GP. So not your average prescription then.
9300 people died due to cold homes
Around 9300 Britons died during the 2012-2013 winter due to cold homes. I think we can all agree that this is 9300 too many. Yet fuel poverty continues to be a growing problem in this country, despite one of the strongest economies in the G7. I suspect that most of these deaths were elderly people who had to choose between food and heating. A choice that no one in our country should have to be faced with.
That is why I welcome this sort of measure. At £3m this is clearly just a trial at the moment. But I hope that the trial proves successful and that the next Government expands the service and ploughs more money into it.
So how exactly is it going to work? Well, according to reports, the money is going to be made available to build new structures and work in conjunction with the Government’s existing fuel poverty measures. Doctors would then have the ability to decide quickly end efficiently if their patient qualifies for this sort of funding.
Treating the root, not symptoms
One of the aims of this sort of scheme is to tackle to problems of ill health at the root. Doctors as we know treat the symptoms of illness. But Ed Davey explains:
“Talking to GPs and other health professionals, they get frankly fed up when they’re just dealing with the symptoms and not the root causes,” said Davey. “This all costs money, huge amounts of money, dealing with the blooming symptoms. I want to deal with the root causes. Why hasn’t this been done before. I am absolutely furious that people have not done this before.”
It’s a good point. If we used warmer home improvements like new windows and doors, boilers, better radiators etc, then we can improve the living conditions of those in fuel poverty and help reduce the strain on the health system further down the chain.
For me, this appears to be a winning solution for all involved. Those in fuel poverty get a vital helping hand in getting their house warmer. The company making and installing the products should benefit from the increased attention and hopefully business. The health system should benefit as less money in theory will be spent treating problems caused due to cold homes,and more importantly, reducing death rates.
One radical way you could view this is that it could be a good replacement for the Green Deal. That system doesn’t work. But it was a system designed to help improve the energy efficiency of the worst homes. Well, so is this new one. Perhaps this will end up being far better thought out and more efficient than the Green Deal was. Just a thought.
What do you think? Is this a good idea? Could it change the way home improvement products like windows and doors are viewed in the future? All comments welcome in the section below.
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