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
    +4

    Comment number 337.

    @13. "The tories are taking action, didn't they say we should put on another jumper if we're cold, earlier this week."

    er, actually no they didn't. The Beeb in fact to their credit did an entire article specifically about how they did NOT say that.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 336.

    Nobody in ANY "so called" civilised society should EVER have to go cold or hungry. Our disreputable & despicable Tory led, Lib coat-tail clinging, accursed Govt,couldn't give a flying-fig about the "New Dickensian" society they have done much to create. Yet recent news focuses on Royal Christenings and such. Shameful priorities. For there WOULD BE enough to go round but Evil greed prevents.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 335.

    clegg in particular is out of touch with reality in relation to the green levy. my sister is one of those who has to chosen heating or eating and has come close to losing her house; yet clegg cares more about 'the environment' than people. we are basing policy on scientific theory and the poor are suffering as a consequence

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 334.

    If I have to choose between heating and eating i'll be getting very good at shoplifting. What's the worse that can happen? Three years of warnings and community orders followed by three square meals a day at Her Majesty's Pleasure? Better than starving or freezing each winter.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 333.

    Never in a billion did I think I'd every say it but I'm voting Labour at the next election. ConDems useless at identifying with standard of living crisis and many other aspects of government, take the East Coast rail privatisation, idiots when they think its vital for competition, competition doesn't work elsewhere on the rail network. We are ruled by imbeciles.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 332.

    At 18; bluepencil wrote:
    This Prime Minister has done nothing on this issue and has no idea how the cost of living is hitting the poor and average incomes.

    You really think that? That he has "no idea"? That I very much doubt! All he does care for are the relatively wealthy who will vote for the Conservative Party at the next General Election.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 331.

    @290: "perhaps if the country had the decency to change their outlook and follow the moral countries, we wouldn't need to rip off its citizens."

    Yes, I'm sure that banning girls from going to school and stoning adulterers to death would help us all to keep warm...

  • Comment number 330.

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

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 329.

    Those who deny there’s a problem here say we’re being inconsistent in not complaining about supermarkets profits. Well; recent food price escalation is largely due to the cost of energy; but even that’s not the key issue.

    What’s wrong is that energy prices have risen in recent years by more than the rise in price of wholesale gas and by more than any rise in most peoples’ incomes.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 328.

    "By far the biggest opportunity to cut energy bills is to fully insulate the UK's leaky homes. "
    Just a smokescreen. Our house is fully insulated and we don't like our increased bills.
    Can people just PLEASE realise that plans to decrease the amount of fuel we use will only result in price per unit being raised to recoup the loss.
    NATIONALISATION NOW!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 327.

    @317

    Sadley protesting by Using less won't work. most of us have already cut back as far as we can. The less we Use the higher the price goes to compenstate. The same is true with road fuel, we are bying significantly less as road users yet the price still goes up when Oil goes up and then stays the same when it comes down.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 326.

    In terms of energy prices over the last few decades we have got used to cheap energy resulting in poor use through production of poor quality housing and wasteful practices. We are now adjusting to a period of expensive energy - quality of new housing is certainly better than past generations but of those of us in older properties we need to plan how to make them more energy efficient

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 325.

    290.Islam Will Prevail
    energy prices are rock bottom or even free in islamic countries.
    perhaps if the country had the decency to change their outlook and follow the moral countries,
    =
    Are these the same Islamic states that morally hack off the heads of infidels or stone people to death for having sex whilst leaving 50% of your population without education do you mean those Moral states?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 324.

  • rate this
    -20

    Comment number 323.

    Even though prices rise so much the proift margin of these companies doesn't really move. The enitre increase is eaten up in costs.

    The reason their profits rise is because despite prices increasing so much we uses more and more each year. 5% on Billions invested is not excessive, our usage is. Free insulation et al has been available for years but still people don't have it done.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 322.

    304.all in it together
    Memo to Ed from fat Ed
    ^^^^^^

    Did you send that memo to Ed?

    Because to see the world as you do you would have to be a proper
    fat Ed

    Or

    Richard cranium

    enjoy

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 321.

    If people would just dress appropriately for the season, they could save a lot on their energy bills. In winter my husband and I (66 and 67) wear layers, including a warm sweater, even indoors, and we can keep the thermostat turned down and the bills manageable. I go to other people's houses and see them in shirt-sleeves when there's snow on the ground outside. They are their own worst enemies.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 320.

    161.Sixp

    "Government economic policy ... forcing people into poverty. Vast inequality will lead to civil unrest"

    Yeah, right. We see it everywhere.

    Please go to India and compare to UK. Saying anyone in UK is in poverty is an insult to people suffering true poverty.

    w/o profit, companies go bust & unemployment goes up, but profit is bad, apparently.

    civil unrest, my a**e!

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 319.

    Utilities shouldn't be run like this - they're too important. To my mind, energy companies, railway firms etc should be given a contract by government to run services in a certain area for a certain time, as the old ITV television companies were, and ought to be told what price they can charge. There's no fair competition here; these firms have formed a cartel.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 318.

    Frankly this whole debate is becoming farcical. The only effective solution is nationalisation. The rest of the solutions on offer are simple window dressing. We have tried the free market for energy, it doesn't work. A cartel controls it and increase prices at will. 18 months till election time, and I would vote for the party that had nationalisation on the manifesto.

 

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