CARDI welcomes new research on fuel poverty amongst older people in Ireland
- Northern Ireland
- Republic of Ireland
Rising levels of income poverty, a high proportion of older people living alone, reliance on oil-based central heating and poor housing conditions are notable features of fuel poverty among older people In Ireland - according to new research launched at DIT Aungier Street, Dublin (Dec 15th 2011) by Mr Pat Rabbitte TD Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources.
The research carried out by a group comprising Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH), Centre of Excellence in Public Health in Northern Ireland and Brunel University London was funded by the Centre for Ageing, Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI).
CARDI Director, Dr Roger O’Sullivan welcomed the research: “Reducing fuel poverty is an important component in ensuring the health and well being of older people across the island of Ireland. In this time of economic austerity, vulnerable older people, particularly those living alone, face many pressures on their household budgets but it is imperative that older people are able to heat their homes effectively and efficiently. This report underlines the importance of initiatives that upgrade the energy efficiency of all dwellings inhabited by older people.”
The report ***Fuel Poverty, Older People and Cold Weather: An All-Island Analysis features a review of national fuel poverty statistics relating to older people as well as an analysis of excess winter deaths among older people in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
CARDI has prepared a briefing paper based on the findings of this project which is available at the following link: Understanding fuel poverty in the older population
• Cold temperatures are associated with increased mortality and the effects extend
for 2-3 weeks after a cold snap. The older population is principally affected the
most, with each 1°C decrease in temperature being associated with 2.6%
increased total mortality (Goodman et al., 2004).
• Excess winter mortality is not normally recorded as being from hypothermia, but
rather the cold weather increases the risk of deaths from existing cardiovascular
disease, stroke and respiratory conditions (Goodman et al., 2011).
• The risk of fuel poverty is concentrated among older people living alone across the
island of Ireland (Goodman, et al., 2011). 29% of all older people in ROI live alone
and 32% of older people in NI (Central Statistics Office, 2007) (NISRA, 2002).
• Older people tend to live in houses which are not energy efficient, lack adequate
insulation or lack central heating (Goodman et al., 2011).
• Older people are heavily reliant on benefits to keep above the poverty line: In NI,
the relative income poverty rate for pensioners excluding state social transfers was
77%, compared to 88% in ROI (CARDI, 2010a).
• Older people in NI living in rural areas are more likely to lack central heating, have
poor housing condition and experience fuel poverty, while there is little evidence of
a rural – urban difference in fuel poverty in ROI (Goodman et al., 2011).
• Increasing fuel allowance will in itself not address the root of the problem which
centres on energy inefficient homes, low incomes and rising fuel prices.
***Fuel Poverty, Older People and Colder Weather: An All-Island Analysis will be available at: www.publichealth.ie and DIT website on the 15th December
CARDI Briefing Paper available at www.cardi.ie
Warmer Healthier Homes – A New Fuel Poverty Strategy for Northern Ireland is available at: http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/warmer-healthier-homes.pdf
Media Queries on the launch and full report:
(NI) Grainne Walsh, Stratagem: (028) 908 72800 / 0792 016 5600.
(NI) Arlene McKay, IPH: (028) 9069 0058 / 0773 490 3944.
(RoI) Ronan Cavanagh, Montague Communications: 00353 (0) 1 830 3116 or 00353 (0) 86 317 9731.