24,000 die in winter as fuel poverty climbs

New figures show more pensioners have to choose between heating and eating

Personal Finance Editor

The Government unveiled its long-awaited Energy Bill on Thursday. It's the Coalition's blueprint for turning Britain's energy green.

But the biggest revelation of Thursday's news was that households will be forced to subsidise the planned, new, low-carbon electricity generators by paying an extra £95 a year on their energy bill by 2020.

Bills are already set to soar in coming years, forcing even more vulnerable people than ever into fuel poverty when they can't afford to heat their homes.

Which makes the news – also released on Thursday – that there were 24,000 extra deaths last winter in England and Wales, according to official figures, all the more shocking.

Not all of them were due to people turning down their heating because they couldn't afford to pay their bills, but plenty were. The World Health Organisation reckons that 30 per cent of winter deaths in Europe may be attributable to living in cold homes. If true, that means up to 7,200 people in England and Wales died last year from not living in warm homes.

Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, which is calling on the Government to use cash raised from carbon taxes to help the fuel poor, said: "The tragedy is that thousands of these deaths are preventable. If UK homes were fully insulated it would significantly reduce the number who die from the cold each year."

On Thursday, protesters from the Fuel Poverty Action Group laid tombstones on the Treasury's steps to illustrate the Government's responsibility for fuel poverty deaths.

One of the campaigners, Joan Grant of the Greater London Pensioners' Association, said: "I try not to put my heating on until 6.30pm in the evening but sometimes I have to give in before and when I do I worry about the bills. It's disgraceful that we should even have to think about keeping warm, but people like me are really frightened."

Research published on Tuesday revealed that the Government has slashed the amount of cash it gives to help those in fuel poverty by a quarter over the last three years.

Labour's shadow climate change minister, Luciana Berger, said the current government's policies are pushing more homes into fuel poverty, rather than tackling the problem.

"The most effective way people can save money on their bills is by improving their property's energy efficiency – but ministers are so out of touch they are making it harder to do," she said.

With the frost beginning to bite this week, the shocking casualties of soaring energy bills may soon begin to mount up. But there is some help from the Surviving Winter campaign, which was set up by the Community Foundation Network.

It encourages well-off older people to hand over their Winter Fuel Allowance, which is then used to help vulnerable folk. With £200 going to households with pensioners aged 60 to 79 and £300 for those where at least one person is 80, donations quickly grow and some £500,000 has been raised by the campaign during the last 20 days. More is needed, however.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before