John, an ardent supporter of ending fuel poverty said “I find it totally unacceptable that on average 25,000 people in the UK die from the cold every winter. Fuel poverty is a very real issue. Older people, children and people with disabilities or health issues are particularly at risk. We must do all we can to end fuel poverty now.”
Last week was Cold Homes Week, when many of the 200 organisations supporting the Energy Bill Revolution campaign came together to highlight the shocking problem of cold homes and fuel poverty in the UK.
These organisations have come together to call for the problem of cold homes to be fixed once and for all through a major programme of home improvements. Buying a unit of gas or electricity in the UK is already cheaper than in most other European countries - the problem in the UK is people have to buy so many units because their homes literally leak heat.
For that reason the Energy Bill Revolution is calling on all parties to commit to ensuring 2 million low-income homes are improved so that they can reach Band C on their Energy Performance Certificate during the next Parliament. With such a programme up and running, the remaining 4 million low income homes can be fixed in the next Parliament, so that all low incomes homes have been improved by 2025. Research has shown that not only would this programme pay for itself through the economic benefits it creates, but it could be funded by reallocating of a tiny proportion of infrastructure investment that is already planned.
New research commissioned by the Energy Bill Revolution showed the number of energy saving measures being fitted to vulnerable peoples' homes this winter had plummeted by 80% when compared to winter 2011/12. The research also undermined Government boasts to have provided this help to 1 million homes, showing that were it not for policy changes, 2.8 million homes would have received help by now.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed a sizeable increase in death rates as the weather turned colder in January and flu started to circulate. Assessing the impact of each of these causes will take time, and in any case they are not unconnected - being cold makes people more vulnerable to infection and makes recovery more difficult. The most recent figures show that over 15,000 more people dies this January than in the same period last year.