10,853 people living in cold homes perished this winter

10,853 people in the UK perished during the winter of 2017/18 as a result of living in a cold home. This shocking statistic comes from End Fuel Poverty Coalition member National Energy Action‘s (NEA) 2018 UK Fuel Poverty Monitor. You can download a copy of the report here.

The Monitor is NEA and Energy Action Scotland‘s (EAS) annual investigative report into fuel poverty across the UK and within each of the four nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This year’s monitor focuses on the severe cold weather experienced in February and March of this year, referred to by the media as the ‘Beast from the East’.

Between February 28th and March 3rd 2018, the UK was struck by some of the most severe winter weather experienced in almost a decade. Much of the country was swathed in snow and wind-chill temperatures plummeted the already freezing temperatures further. Health and social care services faced unprecedented pressures, roads were impassable, communities isolated and many households suffered power cuts. A short video presenting the UK’s experience of the ‘Beast from the East’ can be viewed here.

The report identifies that the February and March cold snap resulted in an influx of demand on frontline services, with many seeing an increased number of households with more complex needs, seeking support. Many organisations were dependent on the goodwill of staff and volunteers but a lack of planning and resource meant many services creaked at the seams, leaving far too many households living in a cold home.

NEA and EAS make a number of recommendations, much of which reiterate those made in the 2017 UK Fuel Poverty Monitor. These include:

  • Clarification across each nation on fuel poverty commitments, with this embedded within legislation and relevant local and national health and social care frameworks
  • The development of annual registration for Single Point of Contact referral services to ensure local support services have greater visibility
  • Re-establishment of grant schemes to fund the delivery of health prevention-based affordable warmth programmes
  • The introduction of requirements, similar to those required of regulated energy suppliers and distribution companies under the Priority Services Register, and enhanced regulatory scrutiny for unregulated sectors such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and oil.
  • Revisions to the Digital Economy Act to permit local authorities, public sector health bodies and energy network companies to data-match with the Department for Work and Pensions, autonomous from licensed energy suppliers.