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 677.

    We live in an old, poorly insulated house.
    We don't use any heating at all.
    Instead, we wear hi-tec clothing that you find being sold in specialist outdoor shops.

    == is your hi-tech clothing like this?, don't go out with it

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    No673 John,

    'Our PM is in exactly the same position as we are'

    Are you sure John?

    Do you think he has ever had any difficulty paying his energy bill?

    How many multi millionaires do you know who have no record of gainful employment?

    'Same position as we are'? - you can't be serious

  • rate this

    Comment number 675.

    Its that season again. Stop wobbling about windfall taxes etc et just reduce the d**m prices so we don't need handouts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    I'm retired.
    We live in an old, poorly insulated house.
    We don't use any heating at all.
    Instead, we wear hi-tec clothing that you find being sold in specialist outdoor shops.
    We're as warm as toast.
    Our utility bills total just £240 per annum.
    It's not everyone's cup of tea, but not everyone realises that advances in clothing technology can significantly reduce one's reliance on fossil fuels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    Our Prime Minister is in exactly the same position as we are.
    The problem is ,we know there is not much we can do about.
    He seems to think he can do something about it.
    Good luck Dave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.


    You find it stupid that landlords should be expected to meet minimum standards on energy efficiency when energy costs so much and is set to rocket in price? Because that’s what im referring too and that was the policy this govt delayed until 2018.

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    As far as intelligence is concerned I will not be taking lessons from Duncan Smith, described by 'Pasty George' as the 'Thick One' in the cabinet.
    Pasty George who came up with 80/20?
    God that really is an insult - spose it explains why he had to lie on his CV ...lucky he managed to marry a rich bird and live rent free on the in laws tax payer subsidised estate then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    Everyone knows this government will do not one thing to jeopardise private companies profits, money and greed are their God and to hell with anyone who wants to upset the apple cart,Tax cuts for their rich mates,tax evasion/avoidance,off shore tax havens,selling off the Royal Mail for a snip to their city pals,not a peep from them on that one is there.Hope everyone remembers this come the election

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    No663 Rock,

    'assume your intelligence'

    Perhaps you can find time to let me know whenever I have said that the problems of society are caused by a 'single party'.

    Don't be so ridiculous

    Only infantile 'party men' take that view.

    As far as intelligence is concerned I will not be taking lessons from Duncan Smith, described by 'Pasty George' as the 'Thick One' in the cabinet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    ok, so insulation will reduce the need to put heating on in winter. how exactly does that help with sky high prices during the summer? do we all get solar powered fans too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.


    I actually knew he was a good bloke. I worked in the HoC for a while and he was one of a very few that stopped and said hello to the cleaners and had a conversation with them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    664. It was this Government that agreed initially to carry out the policy of the last Government thus allowing seamless oversight. I find it absolutely boggling that in 3 years the stupidity and utterly ill thought out, last throws of a defunct Government of 13 years is laid at their doorstep.

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Contin 659 & 661

    I heard so many times from my visitors to the UK wondering why it was so miserably bitter damp cold in the house while their English hosts hardly leave the heating on over a few hours per day and must switch it off at night. Some of my Chinese visitors commented: maybe it is because they are more hairy than us so they felt alright?

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    And it was this govt that delayed legislation due to come into force until 2018 that required landlords to ensure all property they rented out met minimum energy ratings. Many of these people cannot move and are stuck with greedy landlords who will do nothing unless they are forced too. Meanwhile they continue to be robbed by a privatised energy industry whose sole concern is shareholder profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    660. It is very hard indeed to assume your intelligence. How long do you or anyone think this disparity between those that can and those that cannot has been going on. I find it laughable that the problems of society are the sole responsibility of a single Party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    Second that big time.
    At last a tory with some decency!!!
    What next - Jermy Hunt to tell a truth? Fox to not claim for mileage under 30p? IDS to pay rent?

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.

    Con. 659

    Following on from 'Pasty George' with his begging bowl standing outside the Chinese finance ministry pleading for advice and guidance from the communists , things are beginning to look grim.

    == he went to the wrong ministey for advices on how the 'communist' gov does that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    I am sure I heard 'Dodgy Dave' at PMQ's say that it is possible to save up to £300 on your energy bill by shopping around.

    I decided to find out.

    I got four quotes.

    Some were more expensive and others less than my existing bill.

    Taking them all together the average saving was £0.38.per week.

    Was the Old Etonian Clown lying?

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    In northern China, as in Beijing, it normally provides public heating services for residents when the winter comes. The indoor temperature must be above 18 degree forced by law and the local gov. takes this matter seriously. So most households in Beijing the heating temperature stays 18-21 C. The so-called heating season lasts 4-5 months depending on the region.

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    What a top bloke John Major is turning out to be - they should bring him back, he is now sorting out IDS, and is the only sensible Tory I have ever heard.


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