Winter fuel debate should be a call to action

04 January 2013

McCarthy & Stone Developing properties

We appreciate the debate stimulated by Lib Dem MP, Paul Burstow, on whether Winter fuel payments should be means-tested to help pay for care for those in later life, and the responding arguments on how rising fuel costs could risk many more older people being unable to afford heating on even modest incomes.  

While we welcome the timely discussion on how to properly fund care provision, we strongly oppose any changes that make it more difficult for those in later life to meet their rising heating bills.   

More importantly, we believe this debate ignores the fundamental problem of the millions of energy inefficient homes in Britain and the importance of building better housing. More money needs to be spent on reducing heating bills directly, including better insulation, improved ventilation systems, more sustainable fabrics and better heating systems. Every pound spent on improving the energy efficiency of a home only has to be spent once, whereas giving people money to pay for rising bills for inefficient homes just goes on year after year and increases with fuel costs.

We recognise that our purchasers want more energy efficient homes, but want these features included in the price. Increasing the availability of retirement housing helps ease the energy burden on older people through careful and efficient design (51% of our residents say that their heating bills reduced noticeably after they moved in). 

Our “fabric first” approach adds costs to our build process, but we believe it is the right thing to do and is the most robust way to keep energy use down for the whole life of the building. We look to perform better than regulation minimums, and developers like ourselves need to play their part in reducing fuel costs for elderly homeowners both now and in the future.

Download the full report, Delivering Dilnot: paying for eldery care. 

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