Shocking figures reveal the number ‘excess winter deaths’ and those living in fuel poverty in Boston and Skegness last winter.
A staggering 6,172 households in the Boston and Skegness constituency live in fuel poverty, according to the charity National Energy Action (NEA).
Worringly, the charity also reveals there were 40 ‘excess winter deaths’ in the area last winter - 30 per cent of which ‘were attributed to cold homes’.
This means 12 people in Boston and Skegness died as a direct result of having a cold home last winter, according to the NEA.
In the East Midlands as a whole, there were 4,200 excess winter deaths, with 1,260 vulnerable people ‘dying as a direct result of not being able to heat their homes adequately’.
Excess winter deaths are the number of deaths occurring during the winter season compared with other times of the year.
With 246,838 households currently in fuel poverty in the East Midlands, and fuel bills set to rise again, the NEA is campaigning for action on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day – this Friday February 15.
The charity is calling on the UK Government to provide central investment to dramatically improve energy efficiency in the least efficient homes and local councils to do all they can to enforce housing standards. Fuel Poverty Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of the plight of fuel poverty, facing millions of households across the UK.
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of NEA comments: “Everybody has the right to live in a warm and safe home but tragically, many people died needlessly last winter because of cold homes. Living in a cold damp home can also lead to extremely poor health, especially in those who are vulnerable such as young children, older people, and those with long term sickness and disabilities. With fuel bills set to rise again, without urgent local and national action we are worried the same will keep happening each winter. As well as needless deaths and misery, this would continue to place a huge strain on our already stretched health services.”
The Standard spoke to MP Matt Warman about the issue. He said: “Nobody should live in a cold home, especially not older or more vulnerable people, so I am pleased that measures are being taken to tackle fuel poverty. The Energy Company Obligation scheme and Warm Home Discount will help to provide energy efficient home upgrades and rebates on energy bills for low income and vulnerable households, and the new safeguard tariff will protect 11 million consumers nationwide from high bills.
“There is, of course, always more to do to tackle fuel poverty, so I look forward to the publication of the updated fuel poverty strategy next year, to help target support where it is needed most. I would encourage any constituent who is struggling with fuel costs to consider contacting their energy supplier to check they are on the best deal, or Citizens Advice, who can look at the best options for their individual circumstance. “I am always happy to help constituents to do this if they need any assistance.”
The NEA charity warns that nationally more than 15,000 people died needlessly last winter as a direct result of cold and unsafe homes. NEA highlights that this is more fatalities than road traffic accidents and substance abuse combined. They also say improving the energy efficiency of homes can prevent these deaths and suffering but there has been a dramatic drop off in delivery of home energy efficiency improvements nationally and a deep-cuts to council funding since 2010 has made it more challenging than ever (and in some cases impossible) to commit the necessary resources for monitoring and enforcement of housing standards.
Adam Scorer continues: “Despite the continued squeeze on resources locally, using current enforcement powers, their wider strategic responsibilities and place-based knowledge; local authorities are well placed to take action against landlords who do not meet statutory energy efficiency requirements or minimum housing safety standards.
“NEA is also calling for the introduction if a new national Clean Growth Fuel Poverty Challenge Fund, providing necessary central investment to tackle the cold homes crisis once and for all. As well as helping the poorest and most vulnerable to afford to live in a warm, dry home this would also support small business growth in the region, achieve major carbon emissions reductions, improve local air quality and reduce health and social care costs”.
NEA also highlights the dangerous coping mechanisms that some people in fuel poverty are being forced to turn to including; using candles instead of electricity and even barbequing in the sink.
Mr Scorer adds: “246,838 households are currently in fuel poverty in the East Midlands, so we are urging friends, families and neighbours to keep a lookout for any of these dangerous coping strategies. If they know someone who may be struggling over the winter, information on what support is available can be found on NEA’s website.”
Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is coordinated by NEA who have also developed resources to direct people to help and advice as part of day. These can be found on the NEA website and twitter page www.twitter.com/NEA_UKCharity, along with more information on how to take part in its fundraising event, ‘The Nation’s Biggest Housewarming’.