Campaign groups will join together tomorrow (19th Jan) to protest at the scandalous number of people dying from cold related illnesses.
The National Pensioners’ Convention, Fuel Poverty Action, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and many others are holding a minute’s silence outside Parliament at midday to mark the latest annual ‘excess winter deaths’ for England and Wales.
Excess Winter Deaths Demo – 11.30 Thurs. 19th Jan
George V Statue (opp. Old Palace Yard)
Westminster SW1P 3JY
In 2020-21 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed there were 63,000 ‘excess’ deaths driven by cold and Covid - up two thirds on the previous year. It’s feared the 2021-22 numbers they announce tomorrow will be much higher.
Just last week the ONS revealed more than 650,000 deaths were registered across the UK in 2022. That’s 9% up on 2019 - one of the largest excess death levels outside the pandemic in 50 years.
Speakers at the event will include Lord Prem Sikka, Baroness Moulsecoomb, and leaders of NPC, FPA, DPAC leading up to the one minute’s silence.
The protestors will then march with a coffin bearing the latest excess deaths figure to Downing Street, where they will hand in a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for immediate action.
NPC General Secretary Jan Shortt said: “No one should die from cold related illness in this country. But rocketing cost of living, rampant energy prices, and the disastrous crisis in the NHS and social care will see tens of thousands more die if no action is taken. It’s time the government ended this horrific annual cull of our oldest and most vulnerable.”
Ruth London, Fuel Poverty Action added: “Forcing people onto prepayment 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.
Instead of installing more meters, suppliers should now be forced to remove the ones they have imposed without regard to customers’ safety or legal protections. And now is the time for the government to consider Energy For All: each household should receive enough energy free to cover basic needs, paid for by higher tariffs for excessive use, and an end to the millions spent daily on subsidising fossil fuels.
“The British Gas profits announced on 12 January just confirm that there is plenty of money available. Some people are enjoying windfalls and heating private swimming pools, while others die or live in misery.”
Simon Francis, co-ordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, which represents more than 70 organisations 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."
Joe Davies, Don’t Pay UK said: “We know that every year people tragically die from exposure in their homes during winter because of not being able to afford heating bills, and this year will only worse. We don’t think that taxking the most vulnerable by forcing them on to pre-payment meters – the most expensive payment option – is in any wat acceptable in a country already on the brink of social care collapse. It is nothing short of diabolical that those in power heat second homes, whilst those that put them there, freeze in inaequate ones.”
Case Study - Alex Considine, 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?”
This year’s excess Winter Deaths demonstration comes after 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.
*New figures announced by the ONS in the week before Christmas show that excess Winter deaths for the month were the highest in two years. Approximately 2,500 more people died than usual in the week ending 23 December in England and Wales. The total death toll of 14,530 is 21 per cent higher than would be expected for this period, compared with averages from the last five years.
**WINTER DEATHS DEMO, 11.30am, George V Statue (opposite Old Palace Yard) Westminister, London SW1P 3JY
Download the press release