web analytics

Poverty Watch – Special edition on fuel poverty

Written By: - Date published: 7:06 am, April 20th, 2013 - 6 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, energy, poverty - Tags: , ,

Given the drama surrounding the Labour / Green electricity policy it seems appropriate for this week’s Poverty Watch to explore the topic of fuel poverty in NZ. Going some small way to alleviating fuel poverty is what this policy revolution is all about.

In 2012 the Community Energy Network launched a fuel poverty awareness campaign:

Fuel Poverty is usually recognised as an ‘inability to afford to heat a home’ which comes about through a combination of low quality housing, low incomes and increasing energy prices.

Extensive research indicates fuel poverty is present in New Zealand, affecting up to a quarter of New Zealand homes during winter, negatively impacting on the health, wellbeing and productivity of every-day New Zealand families.

CEN are collecting real-life feedback about living in fuel poverty, and pushing for regulatory change. The campaign web is site www.warmerwinters.org.nz, from the about page:

Three main contributing causes of fuel poverty:
1. Poor energy efficiency in the home :
– Lack of money to invest in better efficiency (heating, insulation, draughtstopping etc)
– poor structural condition (gaps, leaks, draughts, poor ventilation etc)
2. High energy prices (and a dependency on electricity)
3. Low household income

Other definitions of fuel poverty are more specific (pdf):

“Fuel poverty” has been defined as the condition when the cost of fuel to adequately heat the home to achieve a satisfactorily warm environment is more than ten percent of a household’s income.

From the same document (see the original for footnote details):

When fuel costs are too high, homes cannot be adequately heated, which can result in household members living less comfortably, with a poorer quality of life and poorer health.

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum indoor temperature for health of 18°C, with up to 20 to 21°C for more vulnerable groups, such as older people and young children.2 Prolonged indoor temperatures below 16°C can result in a serious risk to health, including increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

Many houses have insufficient or no insulation as minimum insulation standards were only introduced in building regulations in 1978.3 People who live in warmer homes tend to be healthier, with fewer GP and hospital visits and fewer days away from work due to illness.4 Cold, damp houses are associated with an increased rate of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Much of this is caused by mould, which thrives in damp conditions. In addition to the physical illnesses that can develop from cold and damp housing, there are a number of studies that show significant effects on mental health including an increase in anxiousness and depression.5

There are several factors which have exacerbated fuel poverty in New Zealand:

the poor quality of New Zealand homes in terms of thermal efficiency
relatively high levels of income inequality and
an increase in the price of electricity.6

It is a disgrace that fuel poverty is a serious problem in NZ – see The Listener’s “Fuel poverty in the land of plenty” (paywalled, but quoted here):

Fuel poverty in the land of plenty

Soaring electricity prices are causing more New Zealanders to struggle to heat cold, damp, unhealthy houses.

In July 2010, five-and-a-half-month-old Roretana Holland was found dead in the bed he was sharing with his four-year-old sister, at his parents’ home in Warspite Ave, Porirua. The coroner for the case, Ian Smith, warned once more about the dangers of cot death when sleeping arrangements are shared. Social deprivation, smoking in the household and excessive alcohol consumption were all there. But one part of the deprivation picture the coroner didn’t mention was why the children were sleeping together in the first place.

The four children shared a bedroom because the family had only a single oil heater to keep warm. The Holland household was one of the estimated 400,000 in New Zealand whose members are living in fuel poverty, where heating the home to a comfortable temperature eats up more than 10% of income. Pressure mounts to either skimp on heating or miss out on other essentials, instead.  …

The jump in fuel poverty in New Zealand appears driven by a troika of causes – low incomes, rising electricity prices and New Zealand’s crummy, badly insulated housing stock.

“Real wages are dropping for a proportion of the population, and unemployment is still relatively high,” says Howden-Chapman. “We have large houses compared with the rest of the OECD, and we’re making good progress with insulating them, but we still have a long way to go. And the cost of electricity in particular has been rising exponentially in the residential market.

“Sadly, those on the lowest incomes pay the greatest proportion of their income – almost 13% – on household energy, yet we know that houses in New Zealand are still cold and damp with all the problems that ensue from that.”

Living in cold damp housing poses serious health risks:

NZ catches death of cold – study

Sixteen hundred more New Zealanders die every winter than during other seasons, with researchers pinning part of the blame on cold, damp and poorly maintained homes.

Otago University researchers analysed deaths over a 20-year period and found 1600 more people died during the four winter months. The study has been published in the BMC Public Health journal.

The bulk of the deaths were people with circulatory, respiratory illnesses and infectious diseases. Infants and elderly people accounted for many of those who died during winter, and almost 10 per cent more women died in winter than men, the study found.

Labour should have done more to address this last time they were in office. Next time round with NZ Power to bring down the price of electricity (and proposed requirements for rental housing), they are going to have a significant impact on this serious problem. If we do nothing, if we leave it to “the market”, fuel poverty will only increase.

6 comments on “Poverty Watch – Special edition on fuel poverty ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Sixteen hundred more New Zealanders die every winter than during other seasons, with researchers pinning part of the blame on cold, damp and poorly maintained homes.

    State housing, lots and lots of state housing. A WoF for houses and houses that don’t meet it can’t be rented out.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Yep hit it from both ends of the spectrum. Provide renters with top class social housing options, while wiping out the bottom end slum lords.

      BTW banks mortgages for investment properties to require those properties to hold a WOF.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • The Duke of Edinburgh
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today expressed New Zealand’s sorrow at the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. “Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen at this profoundly sad time.  On behalf of the New Zealand people and the Government, I would like to express ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Five Country Ministerial Communiqué
    We, the Home Affairs, Interior, Security and Immigration Ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (the ‘Five Countries’) met via video conference on 7/8 April 2021, just over a year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Guided by our shared ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Inspiring creativity through cultural installations and events
    Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni has today announced the opening of the first round of Ngā Puninga Toi ā-Ahurea me ngā Kaupapa Cultural Installations and Events. “Creating jobs and helping the arts sector rebuild and recover continues to be a key part of the Government’s COVID-19 response,” Carmel ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Drug-testing law to be made permanent
    Interim legislation that is already proving to keep people safer from drugs will be made permanent, Health Minister Andrew Little says. Research by Victoria University, on behalf of the Ministry of Health, shows that the Government’s decision in December to make it legal for drug-checking services to operate at festivals ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Better rules proposed for freedom camping
    Public consultation launched on ways to improve behaviour and reduce damage Tighter rules proposed for either camping vehicles or camping locations Increased penalties proposed, such as $1,000 fines or vehicle confiscation Rental companies may be required to collect fines from campers who hire vehicles Public feedback is sought on proposals ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government backs Air New Zealand as Trans-Tasman bubble opens
    The Government is continuing to support Air New Zealand while aviation markets stabilise and the world moves towards more normal border operations. The Crown loan facility made available to Air New Zealand in March 2020 has been extended to a debt facility of up to $1.5 billion (an additional $600 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Building gifted for new community hub in Richmond red zone
    Christchurch’s Richmond suburb will soon have a new community hub, following the gifting of a red-zoned property by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to the Richmond Community Gardens Trust. The Minister for Land Information, Damien O’Connor said that LINZ, on behalf of the Crown, will gift a Vogel Street house ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Pacific languages funding reopens
      Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the reopening of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ (MPP) Languages Funding in 2021 will make sure there is a future for Pacific languages. “Language is the key to the wellbeing for Pacific people. It affirms our identity as Pasifika and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • ERANZ speech April 2021
    It is a pleasure to be here tonight.  Thank you Cameron for the introduction and thank you for ERANZ for also hosting this event. Last week in fact, we had one of the largest gatherings in our sector, Downstream 2021. I have heard from my officials that the discussion on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Strengthening Māori knowledge in science and innovation
    Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods has today announced the 16 projects that will together get $3.9 million through the 2021 round of Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund, further strengthening the Government’s commitment to Māori knowledge in science and innovation.  “We received 78 proposals - the highest ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government delivers next phase of climate action
    The Government is delivering on a key election commitment to tackle climate change, by banning new low and medium temperature coal-fired boilers and partnering with the private sector to help it transition away from fossil fuels. This is the first major announcement to follow the release of the Climate Commission’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Continued investment in Central Otago schools supports roll growth
    Six projects, collectively valued at over $70 million are delivering new schools, classrooms and refurbished buildings across Central Otago and are helping to ease the pressure of growing rolls in the area, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins. The National Education Growth Plan is making sure that sufficient capacity in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Two more Christchurch schools complete
    Two more schools are now complete as part of the Christchurch Schools Rebuild Programme, with work about to get under way on another, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins. Te Ara Koropiko – West Spreydon School will welcome students to their new buildings for the start of Term 2. The newly ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Independent experts to advise Government on post-vaccination future
    The Government is acting to ensure decisions on responding to the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic are informed by the best available scientific evidence and strategic public health advice. “New Zealand has worked towards an elimination strategy which has been successful in keeping our people safe and our economy ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Supporting Māori success with Ngārimu Awards
    Six Māori scholars have been awarded Ngārimu VC and the 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial scholarships for 2021, Associate Education Minister and Ngārimu Board Chair, Kelvin Davis announced today. The prestigious Manakura Award was also presented for the first time since 2018. “These awards are a tribute to the heroes of the 28th ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Global partnerships propel space tech research
    New Zealand’s aerospace industry is getting a boost through the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), to grow the capability of the sector and potentially lead to joint space missions, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods has announced. 12 New Zealand organisations have been chosen to work with world-leading experts at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government backs more initiatives to boost food and fibre workforce
    The Government is backing more initiatives to boost New Zealand’s food and fibre sector workforce, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “The Government and the food and fibres sector have been working hard to fill critical workforce needs.  We've committed to getting 10,000 more Kiwis into the sector over the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Minister welcomes Bill to remove Subsequent Child Policy
    Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni has welcomed the first reading of the Social Security (Subsequent Child Policy Removal) Amendment Bill in the House this evening. “Tonight’s first reading is another step on the way to removing excessive sanctions and obligations for people receiving a Main Benefit,” says ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Mental Health Amendment Bill passes first reading
    The Government has taken a significant step towards delivering on its commitment to improve the legislation around mental health as recommended by He Ara Oranga – the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, Health Minister Andrew Little says. The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Amendment ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Whenua Māori Rating Amendment Bill passes third reading
    Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has welcomed the Local Government (Rating of Whenua Māori) Amendment Bill passing its third reading today. “After nearly 100 years of a system that was not fit for Māori and did not reflect the partnership we have come to expect between Māori and the Crown, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Trans-Tasman bubble to start 19 April
    New Zealand’s successful management of COVID means quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will start on Monday 19 April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the conditions for starting to open up quarantine free travel with Australia have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Ngāti Hinerangi Claims Settlement Bill passes Third Reading
    Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little welcomed ngā uri o Ngāti Hinerangi to Parliament today to witness the third reading of their Treaty settlement legislation, the Ngāti Hinerangi Claims Settlement Bill. “I want to acknowledge ngā uri o Ngāti Hinerangi and the Crown negotiations teams for working tirelessly ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Independent group announced to advise on firearms matters
    Minister of Police Poto Williams has announced the members of the Ministers Arms Advisory Group, established to ensure balanced advice to Government on firearms that is independent of Police. “The Ministers Arms Advisory Group is an important part of delivering on the Government’s commitment to ensure we maintain the balance ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Kiri Allan to take leave of absence
    Kiri Allan, Minister of Conservation and Emergency Management will undertake a leave of absence while she undergoes medical treatment for cervical cancer, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “I consider Kiri not just a colleague, but a friend. This news has been devastating. But I also know that Kiri is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Excellent progress at new Waikeria prison build
    Excellent progress has been made at the new prison development at Waikeria, which will boost mental health services and improve rehabilitation opportunities for people in prison, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. Kelvin Davis was onsite at the new build to meet with staff and see the construction first-hand, following a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Expert panel proposes criminal limits for drug driving
    To reduce the trauma of road crashes caused by drug impaired drivers, an Independent Expert Panel on Drug Driving has proposed criminal limits and blood infringement thresholds for 25 impairing drugs, Minister of Police Poto Williams and Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today. The Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Covid-19 immigration powers to be extended
    Temporary COVID-19 immigration powers will be extended to May 2023, providing continued flexibility to support migrants, manage the border, and help industries facing labour shortages, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced today. “Over the past year, we have had to make rapid decisions to vary visa conditions, extend expiry dates, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Covid-19 imgration powers to be extended
    Temporary COVID-19 immigration powers will be extended to May 2023, providing continued flexibility to support migrants, manage the border, and help industries facing labour shortages, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced today. “Over the past year, we have had to make rapid decisions to vary visa conditions, extend expiry dates, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • More support for mums and whānau struggling with alcohol and other drugs
    The Government is expanding its Pregnancy and Parenting Programme so more women and whānau can access specialist support to minimise harm from alcohol and other drugs, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “We know these supports help improve wellbeing and have helped to reduce addiction, reduced risk for children, and helped ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition Field Day – Tātaiwhetū Trust at Tauarau Marae, Rūātoki
    *** Please check against delivery *** It’s an honour to be here in Rūātoki today, a rohe with such a proud and dynamic history of resilience, excellence and mana. Tūhoe moumou kai, moumou taonga, moumou tangata ki te pō. The Ahuwhenua Trophy competition is the legacy of a seed planted ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Crown accounts again better than forecast
    The economic recovery from COVID-19 continues to be reflected in the Government’s books, which are again better than expected. The Crown accounts for the eight months to the end of February 2021 showed both OBEGAL and the operating balance remain better than forecast in the Half Year Economic and Fiscal ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • FIFA Women’s World Cup to open in New Zealand
    Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson and Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash have welcomed confirmation New Zealand will host the opening ceremony and match, and one of the semi-finals, of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023. Grant Robertson says matches will be held in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 1 April changes raise incomes for 1.4 million New Zealanders
    Changes to the minimum wage, main benefit levels and superannuation rates that come into force today will raise the incomes for around 1.4 million New Zealanders. “This Government is committed to raising the incomes for all New Zealanders as part of laying the foundations for a better future,” Minister for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Dunedin Hospital – Whakatuputupu approved for fast track consenting process
    The New Dunedin Hospital – Whakatuputupu has been approved for consideration under the fast track consenting legislation.  The decision by Environment Minister David Parker signifies the importance of the project to the health of the people of Otago-Southland and to the economy of the region.  “This project ticks all the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Next steps for Auckland light rail
    Transport Minister Michael Wood is getting Auckland light rail back on track with the announcement of an establishment unit to progress this important city-shaping project and engage with Aucklanders. Michael Wood said the previous process didn’t involve Aucklanders enough.                       ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tourism fund to prioritise hard-hit regions
    The Minister of Tourism is to re-open a government fund that supports councils to build infrastructure for visitors, with a specific focus on regions hardest hit by the loss of overseas tourists. “Round Five of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund will open for applications next month,” said Stuart Nash. It ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Governance Group to lead next phase of work on a potential new public media entity
    A Governance Group of eight experts has been appointed to lead the next phase of work on a potential new public media entity, Minister for Broadcasting and Media Kris Faafoi announced today.  “The Governance Group will oversee the development of a business case to consider the viability of a new ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New funding to keep tamariki and rangatahi Māori active
    Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson today helped launch a new fund to provide direct financial support for tamariki and rangatahi Māori throughout the South Island who is experiencing financial hardship and missing out on physical activity opportunities. “Through Te Kīwai Fund, we can offer more opportunities for Māori to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Single tāne, sole parent dads supported into papakāinga housing
    Six whānau in Pāpāmoa receive the keys to their brand-new rental homes today, in stage four of a papakāinga project providing safe and affordable housing in the regions. Minister for Māori Development, Willie Jackson congratulates Mangatawa Pāpāmoa Blocks Incorporated on the opening of three affordable rentals and three social housing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to Disarmament and Security Centre
    Kia ora tatou. It’s great to be here today and to get a conversation going on the disarmament issues of greatest interest to you, and to the Government. I’m thrilled to be standing here as a dedicated Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, which I hope reinforces for you all ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago