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

    Comment number 557.


    512.Ex Tory Voter

    Correct, as I pointed out in the line immediately below the one you quoted so wotz your point?"

    You tried to pass the blame to Brown like it was personally his fault and the smiling cheery Tories would never have done such a thing. If you weren't trying to do that, why did you mention Brown at all?

  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    548. Paul
    I will get him to complain, he went for British Gas as he thought they were trust worthy, apparently not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    550 WunderfulBBC
    At least with the public sector option 1 exists,where as the cartel-of-companies that are at the helm = shareholder 1 Public 0

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    As with the banks, the energy companies need tighter regulation. I would prefer nationalisation, and the country as a whole taking a share in the profits, not just a few well-healed money-monkeys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    Re my comment @ 542

    I was being Ironical not advocating the tips as a life choice.

    But these ARE being used by the elderly to keep warm NOW in this country.

    These are OUR mums & dads sacrificed to the great gods of PROFIT & GREED !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    I'm baffled. Second HYS in one day where the public responding here don't seem to have even the vaguest comprehension of the problem, they just hear soundbites from idiot politicians and fail to do any basic fact checking or research.

    Before getting clickhappy, perhaps someone who disagrees with my previous posts would explain how YOU would reduce electric prices?

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    "Those on the left want to end the the national scandal of 20,000 + pensioners dying from totally avoidable illness this winter" Maybe they should all give up smoking, drinking, xbox and sky tv and they would be able to afford the heating. Thought I'd get it in before some brain dead numpty of the rabid right raises it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    512.Ex Tory Voter

    Correct, as I pointed out in the line immediately below the one you quoted so wotz your point?

    511.gerald - correct, yes it was us the taxpayers.

    I would love to see a state-owned/run Energy company if only to achieve one of two results:-

    1) It would be hugely successful, and put the others out of business
    2) its prices would be the same, and we could put this argument to bed

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    Another day another moaning expert.This country is rich beyond avaris with experts on every subject under the sun stating the ruddy obvious.Oh! for the days when we had action instead of loads of BS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    532. Dwight Payne
    Replace your old boiler save £310.
    My 70 year old brother in law just had his changed by British Gas at a cost of over £4,000"

    He was conned! Where does he live that needs a boiler that big? A castle?

    We had a new condensing boiler put into our decent sized 3 bedroom house this year and it cost £1500 including fitting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.


    "those on the political left want government subsidised tropical temperatures!"

    Those on the left want to end the the national scandal of 20,000 + pensioners dying from totally avoidable illness this winter and 1,000's of others living in cold houses they can't afford to heat. 20,000 + excess winter deaths is far higher than Northern Europe which is far colder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    ncasjbfuo; 2b qjdnr/; nc/lw h/ o2hf'1ilqblisn

    sorry about that, ive just took my coat, 2 jumpers and pair of gloves off, now i can type properly but im getting cold!

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.


    Reading this,you'd think there was a war on."

    There is. Luckily it's only a war of words. The lack of comprehension of what is actually going on in the country by the 'elite', and those aspiring to join the 'elite', necessitates it as they seem blind to any experience outside their personal bubbles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    So now we hear about the sale of the east coast railway - and the loss of 183m pounds a year profit it makes. How pathetic - another blow to taxpayers for short term gain by the Cons and another way for a private sector, foreign owned company to squeeze profits out of us. There will be little investment - I have no trust that it will be in OUR best interest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    532 Dwight Payne
    "well over 12 years to break even"
    Yes,with a 2 year guarantee no doubt and a life of 10/15 years,wonderful!

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    Some alternative tips to stay warm this winter.
    First fill a thermos with tea & make up some sandwiches.
    Using your free bus pass ride all over all day on nice warm buses.
    Go to the library as soon as they open & read use the computer all day.
    Go to the job centre & stay warm looking for work.
    Visit the council offices & sit in the waiting area.
    Lots of places to stay warm for free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    We should leave the EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    when i was a kid and stayed around my grans in the late 60's they didn't have central heating , we would wake in the winter to ice on the inside of the windows and our breath freezing, the only heating she had was a fire downstairs which got lit when she woke in the morning.

    we have central heating in our home, we have it because is nice not because we need it.....................just a thought

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    We probably have the worse insulated housing stock in Europe because your average Brit would rather spend the money on holidays, cars, drink etc. A sense of priority is nowhere to be seen but then they are quite happy to blame someone else for their cold winters. They get right on my nerves. This is from someone who has insulated their home and pay my taxes to waste on others to insulate theirs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    It's time to replace those old boilers......Cameron and his cronies must go!


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