Campaigners lobby David Cameron over cold homes

 

Campaigner Ed Matthews says Britain has "the worst-insulated housing stock in Western Europe"

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Fuel poverty campaigners have written to Prime Minister David Cameron demanding cross-party action on the "national crisis" of cold homes.

Campaigners said the UK was second only to Estonia for people struggling to pay their energy bills across Europe.

It came as Public Health England urged people to keep their homes well heated this winter to avoid potentially fatal health problems.

It said living rooms should be 21C (70F) and other home areas 18C (65F).

Campaign group Energy Bill Revolution - an alliance of charities including Age UK and Barnardos - said the biggest problem in the UK was "leaky homes" and called for investment in a domestic insulation programme.

Energy Bill Revolution said "woeful" levels of insulation had left Britain falling way behind comparable European countries such as Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

Campaign director Ed Matthew said: "Our political leaders are falling over themselves to come up with headline-grabbing ways to cut energy bills yet they fall woefully short of a true solution to the energy bill crisis.

"By far the biggest opportunity to cut energy bills is to fully insulate the UK's leaky homes. No other investment can do so much for so many. If the government is serious about solving this crisis they must make insulating homes the UK's number one infrastructure priority."

Increasingly anxious

Public Health England's advice came in its Cold Weather Plan for 2013, after four of the big six energy companies announced price rises.

Winter warmth tips

  • Set the heating to 18-21C
  • Have your flu jab, if you are eligible
  • Look out for friends, relatives and neighbours who may be vulnerable to the cold
  • Monitor the weather forecast and plan ahead with supplies
  • Have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day and keep active to help your body stay warm
  • Get financial support to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or help with bills
  • Have your heating and cooking appliances checked regularly
  • Wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer
  • When you need to go outside wear shoes with slip resistant, good grip soles

Age UK said older people in particular were increasingly anxious about the cost of heating their homes.

Winter health risks range from flu to falls - but the cold can also make heart and respiratory problems much worse.

On average there are about 24,000 excess winter deaths in England each year, many of which experts say are preventable.

The plan has been produced in collaboration with the Department of Health, NHS England and the Local Government Association.

It contains advice for the NHS and local government, as well as individuals.

This includes having your flu vaccination if you are in an at-risk group, ensuring homes are properly insulated and making sure heating systems are routinely checked.

From November, the Met Office will issue cold weather alerts if the temperature dips to 2C (35F) or less, or if there is severe winter weather such as heavy snow or widespread ice.

'Stay warm'

Dr Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at Public Health England, said: "In colder weather, keeping yourself warm is essential to staying healthy, especially for the very young, older people or those with a chronic condition such as heart disease and asthma."

Public health minister Jane Ellison said: "The elderly and those with long-term illnesses are particularly at risk during winter months so it's crucial that people stay warm."

Age UK's charity director Caroline Abrahams said: "Being cold is a huge health risk for older people so it is absolutely essential that older people stay warm during the winter months.

"But with fuel poverty blighting the lives of millions of households in the UK many older people are feeling increasingly anxious about the rising cost of energy.

"The government must show it has a clear long-term plan to make low income homes more energy efficient."

Labour's shadow energy and climate change minister, Jonathan Reynolds, said: "People are being left in real hardship because David Cameron won't stand up to the energy companies.

"Britain's energy is market is not working for families and business."

Energy graphic
 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 317.

    I know this may sound odd, but where we can, we should protest by deliberately using as little gas / electric as possible for a couple of days. If we do not use the energy these companies are selling to us, they cannot fleece us for a profit

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 316.

    @302 The biggest shareholders of British Companies are British Pension Schemes. Personally I dont have one, my current plan is too work until I drop dead, but that isnt for eveyone and many people like the idea of saving for their future. Saving money isnt going to do much good though if it is invested in companies that dont make money

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 315.

    And soon they'll be handing out winter fuel payments to pensioners, taken from taxpayers and given to pensioners to hand over to private energy companies like British Gas, Centrica and EDF (and in a little while, the Chinese too) -- a state subsidy for private profiteers in all but name.

  • rate this
    +43

    Comment number 314.

    I love these suggestions about fitting double glazing and new boilers - not everyone has the spare thousands to do that.

    And what if you're in a private rented property? If the landlord won't do it the tenant is rather stuck.

    Of course, what would a member of parliament care about a 9% rise in the cost of energy when they're getting a nice 11% pay rise.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 313.

    There is something missing on the hints for keeping warmer in winter and it goes against healthy living advice - eat more fat for body insulation. You don't need to discriminate against saturated ones anymore either. Fatty meat like they used to eat which were 'good' for you before and after the 2WW war, And don't forget the suet puddings and pies.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 312.

    You'd hope that call-me-Dave would empathise with real people suffering in their homes, having lost a child. You sort of hoped he would be a caring kind of guy with people trying their best.
    Perhaps no one told him about the death of his kid and the realities that other people have in their lives, so instead remains fixated with all his schoolboy mates getting richer.

  • Comment number 311.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 310.

    "Goves Silly Temper Tantrum
    What a charmingly naïve statement. You clearly have a very rose-tinted view of human nature. Bless"

    Yes. Apparently, according to Sally, the only reason people break laws is because there are laws in the first place that give some people bad ideas. If there were no laws we would happily negotiate our own coexistence with everyone else as we go along. Such a Utopia.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 309.

    268. Black_And_Proud
    Why not tax me more and give that straight to pensioners who didn't save? That's got to be a vote winner!
    __
    Well - the current 'vote winner' is to devalue pensions (including yours) and savings (including yours) to prop up the unaffordable housing market, and then to push up energy prices in the name of inflation (sorry, "growth"), so I guess your idea might be a better one

  • Comment number 308.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 307.

    Tories urged to return £4.8m donations from Icap’s Michael Spencer

    The Tories don’t care where the money comes from

    It can be from little old ladies dying of the cold or bankers prosecuted for corruption

    All they want to do is help their mates get ease profits and pay no tax

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 306.

    Its not all bad news. The government will earn extra tax revenue on these fuel increases, which it can spend on more CCTV cameras and wars.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 305.

    287 Sally "If competition were easier, a competitor might forgo such gross profits to executives"

    What a charmingly naïve statement. You clearly have a very rose-tinted view of human nature. Bless.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 304.

    Memo to Ed from fat Ed

    Promise to force the energy companies to freeze their charges and get a boost in the opinion polls! Sure they'll all put their prices up more than they would have done, but Cameron will take the blame. Oh, and they'll be a few hundred more deaths this winter than there would have been, but think of the polls Ed!!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 303.

    'It was also the previous Tory Major government that put VAT on fuel.'

    I realise that. That is why it is laughable that Major is even commenting. Anyway, if Ed is that great himself, what did he do as Energy Miniister tio reduce costs? Answer: Nothing, quite the opposite, in fact. He added tax and removed the regulators right to cap prices

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 302.

    246. JamesStGeorge

    "Profits are pensions. Profits are good and as necessary as pensions. Especially until interest rates get back to sensible levels five percent and more, higher than the low energy company profits."

    The first three words are just plain wrong. If that was the case, pensions would be going UP, not being pressured DOWN.

    Top-cat pensions may be rising, but no-one else's are!!!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 301.

    Why does he care? His home is perfectly warm, so there can't be an issue.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 300.

    The big 6 are a cartel they Generate the power and sell it amoungst themselves for distribution. We are being ripped off and the Government will not act to stop it but I believe that Milibands threat to freeze prices is the route cause of these over inflated price rises. They are getting in now in case heaven forbid labour get back in.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 299.

    I phoned my supplier yesterday and asked if they would match the price I could get on USwitch.

    Sorry no can do I was told. Government tells us we can only have 4 tariffs.

    Comparison sites work for insurance renewals if the government let them they would work for energy bills without having to constantly switch.

    Instead those of us who shop around find it more difficult as HMG protects the inept

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 298.

    170.Gryphon "the riots will come!"
    Misplaced optimism. They've made sure of it. So long as there are the distractions of nightly X-Factor and Eastenders on TV, and an agenda-driven, mouthpiece media that encourages fingers to be pointed down at fat / unemployed / foreign / disabled people rather than up at the bankers, bosses and politicians, the proles will never realise our politicial power.

 

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