Inequality Street: Warm homes demanded at Conservative Conference

Upgrading UK’s heat-leaking homes must be urgent priority.
  Published:  03 Oct 2022    |      4 minute read

Photo Opp: approx. 12:30pm – 3:30pm, Monday 3rd October, Centenary Square* Birmingham ***Spokespeople available for interview***

  • Friends of the Earth urges the government to roll out a council-led, street-by-street insulation programme to stop millions going cold this winter and in the future
  • United for Warm Homes is a new campaign recently initiated by Friends of the Earth
  • The photo opp will see a warm, insulated home juxtaposed with a cold, heat-leaking one, represented visually using frames and props
  • Photos will be made available here once the action has taken place

Campaigners will take to Birmingham’s Centenary Square* today, Monday 3rd October, to send a message to the government that it must make upgrading the UK’s poorly insulated homes an urgent priority.

The environmental group Friends of the Earth will stage a visual photo opportunity as delegates arrive at the Conservative Party Conference, held at the International Convention Centre, to highlight the millions of people facing a difficult winter because of high energy bills and to call for urgent government action to fix our heat-leaking homes.

The group plans to create two scenes side-by-side on a fictional road called ‘Inequality Street’ – one of a warm home benefitting from the energy savings that insulation provides, and another with no insulation that is cold and leaking heat.

The homes will be represented visually using two purpose-built frames. Within each there will be a mocked-up living area using real furniture and props as well as a resident who lives there, portrayed by a campaigner.

It will highlight the poor-quality housing that millions of people in the UK reside in and why many homes are expensive to heat because they lack the most basic insulation.

It will also draw attention to the massive gains to be had in rolling out a council-led, street-by-street home insulation programme, targeted first at those most in need, which can both save the average household hundreds of pounds each year on their energy bills and cut harmful climate-changing emissions.

The campaign group will convene in Centenary Square* from approximately 12.30pm for the photocall which photographers are invited to join. Campaigners will also be available to speak to journalists who would like to hear more about Friends of the Earth’s proposals for solving both the energy and climate crises.

For those who cannot make the event, high-resolution photographs will be made available for download here.

Sana Yusuf, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“The energy crisis hasn’t gone away just because the government capped the average energy bill at £2,500. That’s still almost double what most households were paying last year. And with the cost of living spiralling and basic expenses such as rent and food becoming increasingly unaffordable, millions are still bracing for a cold and difficult winter.

“Though additional financial support is needed to ensure no one goes cold over the coming months, rapidly rolling out a street-by-street insulation programme, targeted first at the homes in the most pressing circumstances, would bring down bills quickly, save households hundreds of pounds each year on their bills and drastically cut planet-warming carbon emissions.”

UNITED FOR WARM HOMES – a new campaign initiated by Friends of the Earth

The energy crisis has laid bare the many flaws in the UK’s energy system and how it’s people and the planet are that are paying the price. That’s why Friends of the Earth is on a mission to secure affordable energy for all and win the fight for warm homes.

To guarantee happier, healthier communities and a planet that is not just surviving, but thriving, the green group has identified three key problems the country is currently facing, and the solutions that can solve the energy crisis once and for all:

1. Energy bills are soaring

As we head into winter, millions of people will be worrying about paying their energy bills. Some are being hit harder by sky-rocketing energy prices than others, which is only made worse by a cost of living crisis that’s leaving too many in precarious financial positions.

Even with the government’s recently announced energy price freeze, the average annual energy bill has almost doubled in a year. That leaves around six million people facing fuel poverty this winter - nearly double the number in 2021.

Meanwhile, oil and gas firms have been posting record-breaking profits. It’s clear who’s winning while everyone else is left pick up the huge costs to people and planet.

More emergency support, targeted at those most at risk, is urgently needed to keep people warm and well this winter.

2. We’re trapped in heat-leaking homes that cost far too much to keep warm

The UK has some of the worst insulated homes in Europe. That means millions of households are paying through the roof to keep their homes warm, or are going cold because they simply cannot meet the rising cost of energy.

Even though energy efficiency measures are widely regarded as one of the cheapest and quickest ways to bring down the nation’s energy bills, they remain largely absent from the government’s agenda.

Friends of the Earth believes that a nationwide programme to insulate UK homes, funded by the government and rolled out street-by-street by councils, would help the average household to save hundreds of pounds each year on their bills and dramatically cut the amount of climate-changing carbon emissions our homes produce.

3. We need to transform our energy system

The reason energy prices are so high in the first place is because gas is expensive and the global market for it is incredibly unpredictable. With more than 80% of UK homes reliant on gas for things like heating and hot water, the majority of households are locked into a system of volatile gas pricing.

Our energy system needs a total rethink. The profits of big fossil fuel firms are being put before people’s lives, which is neither fair nor right.

To bring down bills permanently we need to get our homes off costly gas for good, but we also need an energy system that meets everyone’s basic needs. And one that also develops the UK’s huge potential for cheap, clean renewable power, which can both lower bills and cut the amount of carbon unleashed into our atmosphere.