It is a term that has become part of Government’s daily parlance, a media label, a campaigning tool and a source of never ending statistics. But what is Fuel Poverty?
It is not a label or a term, it is not a category or a tool. These are all faceless, lifeless, intangibles. Fuel Poverty is extremely tangible; in fact it is so real for millions of people in this country, our country, that it literally impacts every area of their life – negatively. Worse than that, it is a serial killer. Age UK should know, they have been working to tackle it for a long time and recognise the link between winter deaths and not being able to afford to heat your home: “Every winter, tens of thousands of older people die or become seriously ill in the UK because of the cold. The personal cost to families affected is incalculable – an unexpected hospital admission, facing the need for additional care services or even the premature death of a loved one.” They estimate the cost to the NHS is £1.3 billion a year – in England alone!
So today I signed the Energy Bill Revolution petition – via the Age UK site. Go and take a look at the remarkable list of organisations behind this movement. Some of the Big Six have signed it! Lots of other large organisations like Asda, Barnardos, Greenpeace, Unison and so on. It tells me whether my MP is supporting it or not. You’ll be getting my email, because apparently – unlike 196 others – you aren’t. Surely that can’t be right can it? It seems like such a proactive thing to do to become part of a movement that cares and that should be able to do something.
So I asked a question: what does Fuel Poverty mean to you? To me it is many things and they are all completely real: it is fear, it is loneliness, it is the sense of being left behind by a society that has so much wealth and yet nobody cared enough. And then, very sadly, it often becomes a statistic.