children and warm homes

Social Good – a Child Poverty context

NextGen Energy is a ‘business for social good’, defined by our principles of being in business to make fair profits for onward distribution into social and community programs.

We define social good as providing a service that benefits the largest number of people in the largest possible way. Some classic examples of social goods are clean air, clean water and literacy; in addition, many economic proponents include access to services such as affordable energy and healthcare in their definition of the social or ‘common good’.

NextGen Energy fully supports the valuable work carried out by the Children’s Commissioner. He identified child poverty as a key priority during his term. In March 2012 he established the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Solutions to Child Poverty, and their final report, ‘Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand: Evidence for Action’ has shaped our policy objectives in the social good domain.

Children in poverty frequently live in poor quality houses. Poor quality housing is a cause of many health issues for children, including infectious diseases, respiratory illnesses and preventable injuries. Overcrowding is linked to the spread of infectious diseases including respiratory infections, such as childhood pneumonia, rheumatic fever and meningococcal virus.

And poor quality houses tend to also be poorly-heated houses – which directly impacts on children’s mental health, social well-being and school performance (e.g. because they don’t have space to study, do not sleep well and are tired in class).

New Zealand housing is generally of a lower quality than most OECD countries. And we do not tend to heat our homes adequately, leading to cold, damp houses.

Insulation is only the first step. If you insulate a cold damp home, you create a refrigerator. Without additional point heat sources to warm the air and eliminate the damp, insulation is ineffective other than as a draught excluder. The single biggest factor preventing the poor from heating their homes is cited as the price of electricity, leading to ‘fuel poverty’.

NextGen Energy has the ‘power’ to do something about this, and with your help, we will.