Protest calls for end to excess winter deaths caused by cold homes

Protestors are to stage a vigil in Westminster over the number of people dying from living in cold damp homes.

Members of the National Pensioners’ Convention, Fuel Poverty Action, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and others will hold a minute’s silence in memory of those who have died as Big Ben chimes 12pm on Thursday, 19th January 2023.

The protest is being staged on the day the latest ‘excess winter deaths’ figures for England and Wales are due to be announced by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The figures will cover the period from December 2021 to February 2022, prior to the huge surges in costs of energy bills and number of homes in fuel poverty.

The demonstration follows on from a day of action on fuel poverty co-ordinated by the Warm This Winter campaign which saw events take place up and down the country in December 2022. Further “Warm Up” protests are being organised for Saturday 21st January by Fuel Poverty Action.

The event will start at 11.30am on the 19th January 2023 at the George V Statue, Westminster SW1P 3JY.  Speakers will address the demonstration, leading up to the one minute silence.

Pall bearers dressed in black will then slow march with a coffin bearing the latest excess deaths figure to Downing Street to hand in a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for immediate action to end this annual scandal.

NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said:

It is shameful that anyone should die from cold related illness in this country. But we fear that the rocketing cost of living, rampant energy prices, and the disastrous crisis in the NHS and social care will see tens of thousands more die in this way.  It’s time the government took action to end this horrific annual cull of our oldest and most vulnerable.

Alex Considine who is planning on attending the protest said:

As a single mum with two grown up children, still living at home but with decent incomes, we are all still struggling to survive in this energy driven cost of living crisis.

Even after cutting back, cutting down and reducing our outgoings we are still sitting in the dark at times and not putting the heating on.

And we are the lucky ones.

My neighbours and friends  are in dire straits and constantly asking for my help and advice.  Our homes are cold and damp and our children are getting sicker and sicker with no end in sight. How do we go on?

The protest will also put further pressure on the Government to Ban Forced Pre-Payment Meters after more politicians spoke out about the scandal. Ruth London from Fuel Poverty Action added:

Forcing people onto pre-payment meters is turning energy debt into a death sentence for many.  Suppliers are doing this in defiance of their licence conditions, while Ofgem, the courts, and the government are colluding.

Many people rely on energy to power stair lifts, wheelchairs, hearing and respiratory aids as well as the heat, light, refrigeration and connectivity that we all depend on.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

The energy bills crisis has its roots in Westminster and the Government’s failure over decades to help us insulate our homes and secure a renewable-led energy grid.

The cost of this failure is now being felt by the elderly, disabled, those with health conditions and young families. Even in mild winters, we see huge levels of excess winter deaths caused by living in cold damp homes which put our country to shame.

We need urgent additional financial support for the most vulnerable this winter and next and a significant ramping up of insulation and energy efficiency schemes.