Fuel Poverty Action gathered campaigners and parliamentarians outside the Houses of Parliament on January 19, 2023, to hold a vigil demanding no more deaths from fuel poverty. On this day the Office for National Statistics announced the number of excess winter deaths last year.
On January 19, 2023, The Office for National Statistics announced 13,500 excess winter deaths in the year 2021/2022. In their analysis of the data, End the Fuel Poverty coalition found 2,731 of these were attributable to cold and damp homes with over 1000 lives being lost in December 2022 only.
Fuel Poverty Action, National Pensioner’s Convention, Don’t Pay and other groups, held a minute’s silence in memory of these deaths as Big Ben chimed for midday. Speakers including Lord Prem Sikka, John MCDonnell MP, and leaders of NPC, FPA, Disabled People Against Cuts and the End Fuel Poverty Coalition addressed the vigil leading up to the one minute’s silence.
Pall-bearers dressed in black then slow-marched 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.
Several similar events are taking place across the UK this week with campaigners demanding the government ban forced switching of customers to prepayment meters (PPMs) by energy companies.
Since the UK came out of the COVID-19 lockdown, energy companies have secured nearly 500,000 court warrants to install prepayment meters in the homes of people in debt. Research by Warm This Winter produced figures from YouGov revealing that 64% of PPM customers are classed as ‘vulnerable’ with over half having disabilities or health conditions. Prepayment meter customers could pay in excess of £200 more for their energy this winter.
The government has come under increasing pressure to act since Citizens Advice recently revealed that over 3 million people were disconnected due to running out of credit in 2022, more than in the past 10 years combined. The Business Minister, Grant Shapps, has done nothing to ban the forcible installation of prepayment meters beyond expressing ‘concern’.
We are calling for these meters to be removed from homes where they have already been installed – in defiance of suppliers licence conditions – when they are not safe or practical for the residents.
We also continue to demand that our current energy pricing system be replaced with ‘Energy For All’; a universal, free amount of energy to cover people’s necessities like heating, lighting and cooking. This would be paid for by ending all public money going towards fossil fuel subsidies, windfall taxes on energy company profits and implementing higher tariffs on excessive, luxury energy use.
For more information on Energy For All contact [email protected].