Fuel poverty could claim 100,000 lives over next 15 years, warns energy charity

The NHS is currently bearing a yearly burden of approximately £1.5bn treating cold-related illnesses every winter

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The Independent Online

The NHS could be landed with a £22bn bill as cold homes kill 100,000 vulnerable people over the next 15 years, a charity warns today.

National Energy Action reckons at least 30,000 vulnerable people have perished prematurely over this Parliament due to an inability to adequately heat their homes, and Treasury energy taxes will mean many more will die in the next decade and a half unless the next government takes positive action.

That’s because millions of low-income and vulnerable households are either in significant personal debt or are in fuel poverty and have to ration their heating. As well as causing acute personal suffering, in its Manifesto for Warmth published today the charity says fuel poverty also reduces economic activity within deprived areas and leaves the NHS currently bearing a yearly burden of approximately £1.5bn treating cold-related illnesses every winter.

"New legislation requires future governments to improve the properties of people in fuel poverty to a minimum energy efficiency standard by 2030," pointed out Jenny Saunders, chief executive of National Energy Action.

"However, we clearly need the next Government to invest the money required to halt this tragedy in a quicker timescale. There are no excuses; the Treasury will make more than £28bn from domestic energy consumers in the next 10 years and alongside the existing public infrastructure budget, there is more than enough funds to radically improve the energy efficiency of two million low income homes by 2020 and end the suffering caused by fuel poverty within 10 years."

According to the Government’s own national figures, unaffordable energy prices, combined with low incomes and a housing stock which remains woefully poor compared to other European countries, has resulted in 4.5 million households being unable to adequately heat their homes across the UK.

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