Energy Poverty in Europe: Eurodiaconia released a new policy paper on energy poverty 

A recent joint survey conducted by Eurodiaconia and Caritas Europe has shed light on the alarming impact of the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy prices on vulnerable groups across Europe. The survey revealed a 40% increase in individuals seeking support from social services during 2022. Eurodiaconia and Caritas Europa members have identified specific groups bearing the brunt of the crisis, including the elderly, single parents, young people, migrants, and refugees. These groups are disproportionately affected, facing difficulties in balancing energy expenses with other essential needs, some needing to choose between eating and heating.

Energy poverty is defined as a household’s inability to meet domestic energy needs which adversely affects health, well-being and overall living standards. As the cost-of-living crisis deepened, energy poverty disproportionately affected vulnerable groups, caused by insufficient disposable income, high energy expenditure and poor energy efficiency. High energy costs have further strained the budgets of these groups, leaving them at a heightened risk of indebtedness, energy disconnections, and eviction.

In this new paper, Eurodiaconia advocates for a multi-faceted approach to combat energy poverty. Moreover, we highlight some Eurodiaconia members’ initiatives to tackle energy poverty:

  1. Diakonie Österreich, Austria: Financial aid programs, appliance replacement initiatives and “Energy WITH Spirit: Pioneering Implementation of a Solidarity-Based Renewable Energy Community in the Protestant Diaconal Sector in Austria”, involving vulnerable groups in the energy transition.
  2. Kerk in Actie, The Netherlands: SchuldHulpMaatje project providing debt aid to vulnerable individuals and data-driven approaches to identify and support vulnerable households.
  3. Ecumenical Humanitarian Organisation, Serbia: The Dweller Driven Settlement Upgrading Model supporting vulnerable persons living in inadequate housing and experiencing energy poverty.
  4. Diakonie Deutschland, Germany: “Warm Winter” campaign which aims to create an atmosphere of warmth, compassion, and support for individuals in need, and advocacy for emergency aid mechanisms for low-income households.
  5. Diakonie Dusseldorf, Germany: Energy sponsorship programs providing financial aid, part of a broader debt counselling programme.

Finally, key policy recommendations include establishing energy as a public good, advocating for an EU-wide ban on disconnections for vulnerable households, allocating sufficient public funding for energy efficiency renovations and making clean energy accessible and affordable, combining targeted direct income support with other social protection measures, supporting not-for-profit providers addressing energy poverty (for instance through counselling) and allowing flexibility to Member States to intervene through price regulations.

Read the full report here