‘100,000 may die’ due to heat costs

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Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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More than 100,000 people could die needlessly over the next 15 years because they are unable to heat their homes properly, campaigners have claimed.

Treating illnesses related to living in cold conditions could also cost the NHS £22 billion over that time, the National Energy Action (NEA) charity said as it called for more efforts by the Government to help people struggling to heat their homes.

A report from the charity, published on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, highlights that the Treasury will raise £28 billion in taxes on household electricity and gas bills over the next decade, and called for Government funds to improve domestic energy efficiency.

Some 4.5 million people are in fuel poverty across the UK, the campaigners warned.

The Manifesto for Warmth report estimates that £2.6 billion will be needed each year to bring all poor households up to a decent level of energy efficiency – band C on the energy performance certificate rating – by 2025.

Legislation by the coalition requires future governments to improve the properties of people in fuel poverty by 2030, but the report said the resources made available so far are less than half what is needed to meet the targets set.

Jenny Saunders, chief executive of NEA, said: “Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is a wake-up call on the need to end the cost and suffering caused by cold homes.

“In our Manifesto for Warmth we estimate that 100,000 people – more than would fill Wembley Stadium – are likely to die because they can’t afford to heat their homes.

“Beyond needless deaths we highlight that the NHS may also have to foot a staggering bill to treat cold related illnesses.”

She called on the Government to invest the money needed to improve energy efficiency of fuel poor households more quickly than currently set out in the new legislation.

“There are no excuses – the Treasury will make over £28 billion 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.”

Such a move would have other benefits including reducing the UK’s reliance on gas imports, creating jobs in energy efficiency services and boosting the economy as people will have money to spend on things other than fuel bills, the report argues.

“We now want all parties to commit to ending the cost and suffering caused by fuel poverty once and for all,” Ms Saunders said.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “Government action to keep homes warm for less is working, with fuel poverty falling year on year.

“We’ve made one million homes warmer and cheaper to heat through the Green Deal and ECO – and with ECO extended until 2017 another half a million homes will get the help they need.

“We’re also spending £2.15 billion in winter fuel payments, alongside rebates of £140 for two million low-income homes through the Warm Home Discount.”

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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