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 617.

    Leeds in answer to Toryboy
    We gave her a state funeral. This is her legacy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    I grew up in the East End, ike all the council houses around me we had a coal fire. Now I'm so sure the right wing lunatics would throw an absoluate fit if everyone who couldn't afford gas suddenly decided to unblock their chimneys and start burning coal again. I miss the days of acid rain. Maybe we can start chooping all our forests down like we used to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    My house has good insulation, but no double glazing. The cost would be many thousands of pounds and by the time the "savings" had paid for it the panes would have failed and need replacing again, so no real saving at all! The "oldies" fuel payment covers about 6% of the fuel bills, despite only using three radiators for a few hours a day to a temperature of 16 degrees. And always wearing jumpers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 614.

    Several news items earlier today tell those who can't afford to heat the entire house should stay in the lounge with a fire on. Over the past few years I've repaired boilers that froze and cracked due to low temperatures in the rest of the house while my clients were warm in the lounge. The repairs cost more than that saved!!! Keep boilers on frost setting as a minimum. Don't just turn them off!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 613.

    If I keep my home well heated & the bill ends up being more than I can pay, would DC be willing to put his money where his mouth is & pay it for me? Thought not....

  • rate this

    Comment number 612.

    Still got to love the fantasists talking about renationalisation. With our nationalised power industries, power strikes and ludicrously unproductive and subsidised coal mines, we used to have Europe's most expensive fuel. Now, whine as we do, it's amongst the cheapest and the profits will go to paying pensions for those of us not guaranteed a gold plated public sector pensions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 611.

    Who were the Tory ministers responsible for driving through the privatisation of our essential services?

    It has been a disaster.

    Is it right that some of them have made fortunes due to their links with the companies that came into being?

    Some people think that it was little more than an acts of treachery.

    Public enquiry now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 610.

    2. Energy companies should be allowed one annual price change and they should all be forced to announce their price changes on the same day. We can then make a comparison/switch based on static information and companies would have to adjust their prices based on their own circumstances not on what other companies have got away with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 609.

    Hollande is sitting back and laughing his socialist socks off, at the rank stupidity, short sightedness and dogma that has led Rip Off UK to sell it's tax payers and electorate down the river.
    The UK has been transformed into a mini US by those pulling the politicians strings, to the point where any party that is not right wing (business "friendly") faces exile
    Moderate centre party? No chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 608.

    The issue of competitionis simple. There are two gas pipe lines that bring gas into the UK. Everyone buys from the same suppliers Russia and Norway. Until this changes gas prices will continue to rise. Labour procrastinated on nuclear, and the country that invented nuclear power cannot even build a powerstation now. Renewables cannot fill the gap, the government knos this. Brown outs by 2016

  • rate this

    Comment number 607.


    Grassroots political groups with radical ideas about freedom, liberty, localism, anti-corruption, anti-war have this nasty tendancy to be demonised by the establishment by any and all methods. What's worse is that the sheeple public suck it in hook line and sinker because they don't both doing their own research - they let the media do the thinking for them.


  • rate this

    Comment number 606.


    You are great at dishing advice out... What do you actually do about it.. I assume you do something.. Old people will go cold this winter and couldn't give a hoot what randoms like you type online.

  • rate this

    Comment number 605.

    Just heard another working Class Tory voting simpleton ringing into LBC 97.3 spouting platitudes and tabloid cliche's on Iain Dale's show.
    That is all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 604.

    599 farkyss
    Guessed that's where you were heading,but I'm to busy working to not pay the bills!
    Interested who this "everyone else"is as I "blah on the floor"hope its a heated room,cells generally are,aren't they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 603.

    Society is worried that we have a ever burdening population of old folk. Surely these are the same old folk who were brought up without double glazing, cavity and loft insulation, radiators in every room, therefore one has to assume that they are hardier than the current mid-lifers. They used to combat the cold by putting on an extra layer of clothing because it was cheaper..

  • rate this

    Comment number 602.

    Lets take the energy companies to the EU human rights court.

  • rate this

    Comment number 601.

    596. paul1000

    We need a new class of Politician in this country with radical and innovative ideas
    I'd be satisfied with a conscience and willingness to be a full time MP rather than a self enriching "consultant" or "adviser" who's automatically compromised by virtue of their other job.
    Traditionally, this has been the domain of tories - sadly both Lib dems and Labour now indulge.Sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 600.

    Given that most of our energy companies are now owned by European multi-nationals, we should just bask in the glory of knowing that our price rises benefit them so much and allow them to lower the prices of our EU neighbours.

    About time it was all taken back into state control where the only need would be to break even, not make obscene amounts of profit for the fat cats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 599.


    Well I guess your alternative is to sit on the floor and blah about it like a petulant child because expecting everyone else to act on your behalf is a guaranteed plan for success.

    Perhaps you can be placated with some wisdom:
    "If it is to be, it is up to me"
    "War is when the government tells you who the enemy is. Revolution is when the people figure it out for themselves"

  • rate this

    Comment number 598.

    I wish that today's namby-pamby society would get real and begin to follow the example of those who constantly live in much colder climates, and those like me who grew up at a time when central heating was for the wealthy. Homes then were cold everywhere except in the kitchen or living room where there was a coal fire, and maybe a paraffin stove in the bathroom. Just don more layers of clothing.


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