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; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
people

Arts and Entertainment
JJ Abrams' seventh Star Wars, The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of Episode VII has gone online after weeks of anticipation
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

PROMOTED VIDEO
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
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

    Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

    £Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

    Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

    £Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

    £90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Telesales Executive - Cloud Software/SaaS - £37,000 OTE

    £25000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you seeking to furth...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game