Vulnerable people are at the most risk from living in icy homes
Figures released by the ONS show that 45 people died from cold homes every day before the bruising cost of living crisis escalated.
There were 13,400 more deaths between December 2021 to March 2022 compared with average non-winter months, according to a fuel poverty charity that analysed the Official for National Statistics (ONS) data.
The findings will heighten worries about the impact of soaring energy prices this winter – with electricity and gas prices forcing some to make grim choices between eating or heating.
National Energy Action (NEA) used modelling by the World Health Organisation to show that cold homes caused 4,020 excess winter deaths last year in England and Wales. That’s equivalent to 45 people dying every day.
Only last winter is covered by the figures, when energy costs were half the amount they are now.
Average yearly bills have jumped from £1,271 to £2,500 since then.
The Ukraine war is partly to blame for the price rises, though gas and electricity costs were increasing even before fighting broke out in February.
Bills are soaring across Europe, but they were rising in the UK even before Russia invaded Ukraine (Picture: Getty)
‘Every year we see the consequences of failing to keep the most vulnerable people safe and warm during the coldest winter months’, said NEA Chief Executive Adam Scorer.
‘The truth is that we should not accept any death directly caused by a cold, unsafe home’.
The report coincides with the publication of NEA’s Fuel Poverty Monitor, which finds that low-income families or those in poor health are most at risk from living in icy homes.
They claim households have not been given enough state support during the energy crisis and fear 2024’s figures will be much worse.
How much have energy prices increased by?
Household energy bills increased by 54% in April 2022 and were due to increase by a further 80% in October, according to Government data.
Their ‘Energy Price Guarantee’ limited the October increase to 27%.
A further increase of 20% is set for April 2023.
‘Next year, these statistics will expose the full impact of today’s energy crisis’, said Mr Scorer.
‘The toxic combination of extraordinary heating costs, stagnant or falling incomes, and our notoriously poor, unhealthy housing stock will take a heavier toll with lives blighted by debt, ill health, and worse’.
The UK has the worst-insulated homes in Europe, according to research by climate company Tado.
In October, the government stepped in with a price cap to prevent energy bills from soaring a further 80%.
Additional cash support was made available for vulnerable people, such as those on benefits or the disabled.
Around 4.5 million homes were in fuel poverty last October, according to NEA’s figures. Now – even with Government support – this has risen to 6.7 million.
‘We must do all we can now to prevent a public health emergency and further needless deaths’, added Mr Scorer.
‘Fuel poverty needs long-term solutions, but this winter we need the UK Government to give more support and stop millions falling through the cracks with the most awful consequences.’
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