Research that suggests thousands more pensioners will needlessly die this year because of the huge hikes in energy bills by the privatised gas and electricity companies…
Fuel poverty will kill thousands of pensioners this winter
Published: Wednesday, 22 October 2008, 11:57AM
By Dr Stirling Howieson
If the recent hikes in the real cost of fuel cannot be reversed before winter sets in, the impact on the elderly fuel poor will result in an additional 20,000 excess deaths.
This is on top of the 23,900 excess winter deaths registered during the winter of 2006/07.
The UK has one of the highest excess winter deaths rates in the world.
Put simply the elderly fuel poor are dying prematurely because they live in cold damp homes.
Sleeping in cold bedrooms will cause this group to die prematurely from heart attacks, stroke and respiratory infections.
The work undertaken in this field by a variety of university research teams has produced clear conclusions.
These deaths are essentially preventable if the elderly can be kept warm during the winter.
Although insulating the housing stock is the only long term and cost effective solution, a short term palliative can be found by re-directing the current winter fuel payment allowance exclusively towards the elderly fuel poor.
The government must act now if these deaths are to be prevented. If they do not they should be held to account for what amounts to nothing less than gross negligence and manslaughter.
Dr Stirling Howieson is the director of the Centre for Environmental Design and Research. He has spent the last 25 years researching the impact of the built environment on public health.
ITV also reports on yesterday’s pensions protest:
Pensioners and trade unions have joined forces to call for the basic state pension to be increased above the poverty level.
More than 1,000 protesters of all ages are lobbying Parliament to urge MPs to pay single pensioners at least £151 a week.
They also want the state pension to be increased immediately in line with earnings or prices, depending on which is higher, and for it to be paid universally to all existing pensioners, rather than being based on National Insurance contributions as is currently the case.
The campaign is organised by the National Pensioners Convention and 15 trade unions to mark the centenary of the introduction of the state pension.
The groups believe it is the first time that both working age and retired people have joined forces to call for a higher pension for both now and in the future.
NPC general secretary Joe Harris said: “After 100 years of the state pension it’s a national disgrace that at least 2.5 million older people are still living below the official poverty line, and millions more are struggling to meet the rising costs of living.
“Pensioners – both now and in the future – need dignity and security in retirement that only a decent state pension can provide.
“The Government should use the huge £46 billion surplus in the National Insurance Fund and give everyone a pension that takes them out of poverty.”