The Government’s latest statistics reveal that shockingly, 40,800 older people died in England and Wales last winter because of the cold. This is more than double the number of deaths than the previous year and far more than those who die from road fatalities annually.
Every winter tens of thousands of older people in the UK experience ill health or die as a result of the cold. Age UK has calculated that over the last 60 years there have been a staggering 2.5 million avoidable deaths among older people in England and Wales due to winter cold.
At the root of this problem are cold, poorly insulated homes. The evidence shows that the UK’s homes are among the most expensive to heat in Europe. In addition, the UK has the highest level of fuel poverty among a dozen comparable EU nations, and one of the greatest proportions of homes in a poor state of repair.
WE NEED WARM HOMES
Yet government programmes to transform cold homes are still not doing nearly enough to help older people stay warm and well in winter. Only 16,000 people were helped by the Government’s flagship Green Deal before it was closed earlier in the year and this winter, fewer households on low incomes will benefit from the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) than at any time since the scheme came into being in 2002.
Through its campaign for warm homes, Age UK is calling on the Government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and to put in place a programme to lift six million homes occupied by households on low incomes up to EPC Band C by 2025, with two million of them reaching Band C by 2020.
We believe that now is the time to reform ECO to ensure that it reaches far more people in need. We are also calling for a new, improved scheme to support those who can afford to pay to invest in energy efficiency at home.
These steps are essential if we are to tackle the scourge of fuel poverty and reduce cold-related illness and deaths among older people.
Join the campaign: www.ageuk.org.uk/warmhomes