UK 'worst in Europe' on housing and fuel poverty indicators
The UK performs the worst overall of 16 European countries on housing and fuel poverty indicators, according to a study.
It ranks 14th on fuel poverty, with a higher proportion of people who are struggling to pay their energy bills than every other European country assessed except Slovenia and Ireland, the report by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) said.
The UK also ranks 12th based on households reporting that their home is in a poor state of repair and last for the proportion of households that say they are unable to afford to adequately heat their homes.
The study, based on figures from the European Commission, Buildings Performance Institute Europe, the Department of Communities and Local Government's latest English Housing Survey and the National Energy Efficiency Database, also claims that poor insulation has UK homes falling significantly behind those of comparable European countries like Sweden, Germany and Denmark.
As a result, the UK's most energy inefficient homes spend £2,670 each year to heat and light their homes, the findings suggest.
ACE spokeswoman Jenny Holland said: "Of the 26 million households in the UK, four out of five have poor levels of energy efficiency, rated band D or below.
"As today's findings clearly show, this places our nation right at the bottom of the European rankings for housing and fuel poverty and represents an energy bill crisis for UK consumers.
"Ministers must now embrace the opportunity for a national energy efficiency infrastructure programme to address this at the Spending Review in November."
Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign, said: "By far the greatest opportunity to cut energy bills is to invest in energy efficiency infrastructure programme for our nation's leaky homes.
"Recent research from Frontier Economics shows this would bring an £8.7 billion net economic benefit to the country, comparable to HS2 Phase 1 and Crossrail.
"This would boost GDP growth, reduce UK reliance on gas imports and help deliver a net increase in employment across the country. It would also help keep energy bills down, reduce health costs and warm up the homes of the fuel poor."
Friends of the Earth fuel poverty campaigner Sophie Neuburg said: "It's little surprise that the UK is doing so poorly on cold homes. The Government has slashed energy efficiency programmes to the bone leaving vulnerable people to shiver in poorly insulated housing.
"And with ministers undermining increasingly cheap solar power in favour of highly-expensive nuclear, it's clear that ensuring affordable energy in the future is not a Government priority.
"Ministers must end the cold homes scandal with a major energy-efficiency programme to create jobs, tackle climate change and ensure people can afford to keep themselves warm in the winter."