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Cooperation against housing exclusion

National strategies against energy poverty, greater well-being for Europeans

Brussels, 17 April 2014 | Published in Energy, Social

Figures show that housing exclusion and energy poverty are among the most alarming issues of our times. What are the strategies to combat them? We invite you to join our open discussion on Twitter using #HousingEP14


The situation in brief

In Europe

  • 52,08 million people cannot keep their home adequately warm
  • 161,42 million face disproportionate housing expenditure
  • 87,46 million live in poor quality dwellings and
  • 41,74 million face arrears on their utility bills

Although there is no single indicator for energy poverty in the EU, available figures illustrate the increase of energy costs and growing inability for low income households to cope with them. The number of people with complex housing needs in Europe is increasing. Europe needs to find a way to provide permanent and adequate housing for the increasing numbers of migrants, homeless, marginalized and disabled people, together with the appropriate support services.

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Our solution

It is necessary from a human and socio-economic perspective and it will save huge future costs for society. The Supporting People programme in the United Kingdom has been recently evaluated. Findings show that £1.6bn of housing-related support services generated savings of £3.4bn for the public purse. The programme includes health and social care and results in a reduced need for more costly acute services.

This supports what experts and policy makers agree on: that prevention and early intervention is the most cost-effective and harm-minimising policy for confronting homelessness and that housing policies and corresponding taxation and mortgage policies, if well designed, can contribute to preventing homelessness and housing exclusion.

If growing evidence shows that community-based and person-centered services improve outcomes and are more cost-effective than institutional accommodation, we should move towards enabling vulnerable people to live independently and share in, and give back, to the benefits of community life. Training is needed to facilitate the successful integration of support and housing in this context.

What is also needed is a supply of adequate and affordable housing through a variety of tenures and well integrated within the local community. We call this social mix, and we believe that it helps avoid the effects of the down-turn including segregation. Member States should be able to deliver the right measures at the right time, locally, regionally and nationally.

Despite the requirement of the European Energy and Gas Markets Directives to introduce national strategies to help vulnerable consumers, much still needs to be done to implement integrated measures against energy poverty. There is still an extreme lack of access to finance for low cost and low carbon refurbishment as well as a lack of the adequate structures. Training is also needed for housing staff and residents in the field of energy and the promotion of decentralized energy production.

8% of EU citizens cannot pay on a regular basis their utility bills and EU regional policies will help fight energy poverty by allowing energy efficiency refurbishment to be supported by EU Funds.