Report reveals an estimated 1,700 private homes in Norwich could be ‘excessively cold’
People are living in excessively cold conditions – potentially causing a risk to their health – in an estimated 1,700 private homes across the city, council leaders have revealed.
And council officers have been taking enforcement action to try to force landlords to improve some of the chilliest city homes.
But, despite the problems, the number of people in the city living in fuel poverty has fallen – a drop which bucks the national and regional trends.
The figures are revealed in a new 71-page report into home energy conservation compiled by Norwich City Council.
Using a system which rates potential housing hazards and their effects, officers estimate that 1,676 private sector homes in the city have a Category 1 risk for excess cold.
The report states: “It is known that excess cold can bring about respiratory conditions such as: flu, pneumonia and bronchitis and cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.”
The council says it has been taking action to get landlords to improve homes. Almost 60 improvement notices have been served since 2013 and more than a dozen cases resolved informally.
Officers recently started an inspection of 75 properties in Prince of Wales Road. So far, two properties which need enforcement work due to excess cold have been identified and enforcement action taken.
In one, there was no fixed heating system, just costly portable heaters. The tenant had resorted to using bubble wrap over the windows. Storage heaters and double glazing have now been installed.
In the other, the boiler was broken, with no hot water or heating, just portable heaters. Some of the windows did not shut.
A new boiler has now been installed, so the home has full central heating and hot water, while windows have been replaced.
Bert Bremner, Norwich City Council cabinet member for environment and sustainable development, said: “It’s absolutely amazing that in this day and age, there are homes which have problems with heating and insulation.
“Our officers at City Hall are exploring every avenue to try to help people and we have invested a lot in improvements to our own housing stock.”
The report says Norwich is “a tale of two cities”, with positive features, but a “significant proportion” with deprivation, poor educational attainment and poor health.
It states: “Despite a reduction in fuel poverty levels, 10.5pc of all Norwich households still live in fuel poverty, which equates to over 6,500 households.”
A household in fuel poverty is defined as one which has above average fuel costs, and spending that much would leave the household with an income below the official poverty line.
But Norwich is bucking the national and regional trend.
The report says Norwich had one of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the county in 2011.
But the figure has dropped from 12.3pc of homes to 10.5pc.
The council says that is due to initiatives such as improvements to council houses and the Big Switch and Save - encouraging people to switch power suppliers.