I am pledging to help end misery of cold homes in Wales. The most recent Excess Winter Death figures have just been released and show that 2,126 in Wales died needlessly of the cold last winter, an increase of 20.6% on last year. The WASH campaign aims to highlight the desperate and unsafe coping strategies being adopted across the UK due to the misery of living in fuel poverty. The charity says it rejects the idea this should be normal in a country as wealthy as the UK and much more can be done to end fuel poverty and ‘preventable’ excess winter deaths and ill health.
I am backing NEA’s Warm and Safe Homes Campaign to fight fuel poverty this winter. It is an important issue that we simply cannot ignore. Living in a cold home can lead to problems for families and many others including ill health, especially in those who are vulnerable such as older people, young children, and those with long-term sickness and disabilities.
New evidence provided by frontline workers to fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action (NEA), has revealed the top 10 unsafe fuel poverty coping strategies being used to survive winter. The regular use of older, dangerous or un-serviced heating appliances is common-place, despite being potentially fatal or leading to heightened risks for nearby neighbours as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning or in extreme situations, fires and explosions. People struggling to heat their homes are also spending their days in heated spaces such as libraries, cafes or even A&E to avoid the cold.
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of National Energy Action commented:
“The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just released the number of excess winter deaths in England for last winter. Sadly, the statistics have jumped for the second year in a row. Behind those figures will be countless other depressing and dangerous ways in which people try to fend off the effects of living in a cold home. We all know that people regularly cut back on their energy use and rely on food banks to get by during winter. But in a modern country like Britain people are even barbequing in sinks, going to bed early to keep warm and permanently using candles for lighting. Frontline workers have also told us they regularly see dangerous appliances being used, ventilation blocked off and people spending days in A&E and libraries just to keep warm. Further evidence from energy suppliers highlights that over 150,000 cases of energy theft were uncovered last year, many of those causing death or major injury, not just to the culprits but innocent neighbours and passers-by.”
I hope to help NEA shine a light on the desperate and unsafe coping strategies being used by the most vulnerable across the UK this winter. In the UK today, there should be no need for these practices. Cold homes, and the misery and ill health they create need to be eradicated, especially for the most vulnerable in our society. We know the causes, the consequences and the cures but we risk neglecting millions of people that could be helped with immediate and practical solutions.
To learn more about the plan and the Warm and Safe Homes Campaign visit www.nea.org.uk