Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, added his support to Age UK’s new campaign for warm park homes1 at a launch event in Parliament on Wednesday 21st October.
The campaign is calling on the Government to roll out a specific energy efficiency scheme to help park home residents reduce their heating bills and keep warm and well over the winter. This is an important issue in the Boston and Skegness constituency where there are an estimated 11 park home sites.
In the UK, around 100,000 people aged 65 plus are estimated to live in this type of prefabricated bungalow, which appeals to many older people as an attractive and seemingly more affordable option than a traditional home. Yet the reality is that park homes that were constructed before newer building regulations were introduced, which is the vast majority, are very poorly insulated and off the gas grid, making them difficult and expensive to heat.
Age UK’s new report ‘Don’t Leave Park Homes Out In The Cold’ looks at the challenges that park home residents face in being able to buy enough energy to keep warm, and explains why Government schemes such as the Green Deal and ECO have done little to help.
In a new Age UK survey of over 200 park home residents aged 65 plus, over half reported they faced problems staying warm in their home over the winter months and a similar proportion said their health problems were made worse by cold weather.2
Around 1 in 4 of those surveyed spent a quarter to a third of their income on heating their home, a huge amount for them considering that the majority of park home owners are retired and living on a low fixed income. The high cost of heating fuel (66%), poor insulation (67%) and being off the gas grid (49%) were cited by them as the main barriers to keeping warm.
The Age UK research found that cost is the main barrier to residents fitting insulation in their homes, with half reporting that Government schemes hadn’t helped them. Many park home owners are unable to access financial help to improve the energy efficiency of their homes because they don’t have their own individual electricity meter. This means they can’t switch to get the best deal or benefit from Government help for low income pensioners, such as the Warm Home Discount.
Matt said, ‘With 11 sites in Boston and Skegness, we know many older people really enjoy living in park homes across our area. But the high energy costs and lack of insulation mean temperatures can get very low in many of these properties over the winter months. Park home residents need support to bring their homes up to modern day energy efficiency standards to enable them to stay warm affordably over the winter. To achieve this, I fully support Age UK’s campaign calling on the Government to provide a specialist energy efficiency scheme for park home residents. This way, they can continue to living in their homes and enjoying our wonderful area without jeopardising their health and wellbeing.
‘I have also raised the matter with Minister for Housing, and I was pleased to hear that he continues to work with his colleagues in the Department for Energy to develop policies to help park home residents to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and lessen the impact of fuel poverty.’
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: ‘Park homes can be idyllic in the summer but many older residents have told us that they have found to their horror that they are very poorly insulated and therefore prohibitively expensive to keep warm when it gets cold. The Government created schemes such as the Green Deal to assist people who can’t afford to keep warm, yet because of the kind of accommodation they are living in, most park home owners have been unable to access any help, even though their homes are more likely than most to need better insulation.
‘We know that the cold is a real health risk for older people, so it would make a lot of sense for the Government to make sure park home owners can afford to keep warm by supporting them to insulate their properties properly. To achieve this we suggest investing cash leftover from the Government’s Green Deal Home Improvement Fund to set up a special scheme to help park home owners. Not only would this improve their health and wellbeing over the cold winter months, in the longer term it would help reduce illness and demands on NHS, making it a win: win for everyone.’
- Age UK has produced a short film highlighting the difficulties older people living in park homes face with heating their homes. You can view the film here: ageuk.org.uk/parkhomes
- For a copy of the report, please see ageuk.org.uk/parkhomes or email the press office
- If you would like to speak to the case studies featured in the report, please email email@example.com or Helen.firstname.lastname@example.org
- A park home is a prefabricated building occupied as a permanent home, located with others in a dedicated area of ground.
- Age UK conducted a survey of 211 park home owners online and by post in September 2015. 58% of respondents say they have problems keeping warm in their home over winter. 53% of respondents said they have someone in their household suffering from health issues made worse by the cold.