Fuel poverty leads to preventable winter deaths according to new report

On Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, Sunderland City Council has highlighted  the help available to those unable to warm their houses during winter months.

A spokesperson for the Sunderland City Council said:

“Increasing financial pressures on all families, especially those with children, is a national issue which we work hard with partner agencies in Sunderland to address at a local, community level.

“The council provides help and advice to all families at risk of falling into debt. This includes providing benefits and debt advice as well as working with a range of partners to promote financial inclusion, digital inclusion and supporting initiatives to reduce both food and fuel poverty.”

A report for the Home Energy Conservation Act by Sunderland City Council, released last year, defined a household as “fuel poor” if the total income of occupants is below the poverty line with the higher energy costs of living taken into account.

The report estimated that 15,385 or 12.7 per cent of households in Sunderland are considered to be in fuel poverty, which is about 2 per cent higher than the average in England.

The UK in general struggles to keep homes warm. A report released on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day found that the country has the sixth-highest rate of excess winter deaths in Europe.

There are an average of 9,700 deaths every year in the UK that are due to a cold home, according to National Energy Action (NEA) and Third Generation Environmentalism (E3G). UK homes are among the least energy efficient in Europe, which the report says confirms the preventable nature of these deaths.

Peter Smith, co-author of the report from NEA, said:

“As the UK experiences one of the harshest winters for several years, it is important to remember that this causes needless hardship, places health at risk and leads to premature death.

“This preventable tragedy must end. The UK Government must support the strong case for the re-introduction of adequate public capital investment – a necessity if we are to make the UK’s homes warmer and safe for human habitation.”

The report is released ahead of the polar vortex expected next week, in which UK temperatures are supposed to drastically plunge.

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