Almost 300 excess winter deaths caused by cold homes in Wales last year
New data has revealed that there were 285 excess winter deaths in Wales in 2022/23 as a result of people living in cold damp homes.
Figures showing winter deaths reveal a trend where the number of excess deaths increase when the mean UK temperature is 3.6 degrees Celsius or below.
Overall there were 4,706 excess winter deaths in 2022/23 in England, Scotland and Wales due to cold homes.
The House of Commons Energy Security & Net Zero Committee Inquiry will take place today and will see MPs presented with data compiled by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.
Discussions will also take place regarding the UK Government’s preparations for the coming winter.
A report card produced by the Warm This Winter campaign comparing the UK Government’s progress against eight key measures to tackle the energy bills crisis, has revealed that on half of these measures Ministers are making no progress.
The report card shows that on three measures rapid progress is needed, but on one measure, the UK Government has actually gone backwards, by taking steps that will increase the country’s reliance on expensive fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, mounting evidence suggests that a new class system is emerging based on access to energy.
Fewer than 5m of the UK’s 28m households could be classed as being in the “energy elite” and unaffected by the current energy bills crisis.
Around 8m have to borrow money to pay their energy bills and over 1m have disconnected for periods this year.
The rest of the population are also subject to high energy bills, which have doubled in the last three years.
Among this wider group, people have used up savings and cut back on essentials to keep the lights and heat on.
With winter approaching and the cost of living crisis continuing, the ability of people to pay sky high energy costs is severely diminished.
The health implications of living in cold damp homes are severe. In addition to contributing to excess winter deaths, existing medical conditions are made worse and a new pan-European study found that two-thirds of people in fuel poverty experience debilitating depression or anxiety.
Bethan Sayed from Climate Cymru said: “285 excess winter deaths in 2022/23 is 285 too many in Wales, with a total 4,706 across the UK showing how serious this problem is.
“We are quickly approaching the worst winter months, but despite the fact that more people will be in energy debt, bills will be double what they were in 2020, 60% above what they were before the invasion of Ukraine, and at a similar level to last winter.
“We are still seeing the UK Government pander to the energy companies who are making profits while the population struggles.
“We need action from both the UK Government and the Welsh Government in supporting vulnerable households. The UK Government should provide £11.8bn extra support for those who need it, including a programme of sustainable debt relief.
“The Welsh Government needs to outline its emergency support for this winter. They have already said that the Winter Fuel Payment will not happen again this year. What will they do to support those who need it?
“We need the newly shaped Warm Homes insulation programme to be rolled out faster and scaled up so that people don’t continue to live in cold, leaky homes, and for renewables to be prioritised so that people can directly benefit from the projects in their local area.”
Simon Francis, Coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, will be among consumer groups giving evidence to the Committee.
He said: “The public see tackling energy bills as the main way the Government can help ease the cost of living crisis, but sadly ministers have been making slow or no progress on the policies needed to keep people warm this winter and the next.
“Thousands of people die every year in cold damp homes and countless more turn to the NHS as existing health conditions worsen due to living in such conditions. Fuel poverty is a public health crisis, but it can only be addressed by economic and engineering solutions.
“Many of the solutions do not need to place extra burden on the Treasury and we expect MPs to ensure ministers and the energy industry do much more to help those most in need this winter.”
Jonathan Bean, spokesperson for Fuel Poverty Action said: “The country will never forgive a government that allows energy firms to profiteer whilst children go hungry and their grandparents are left shivering in their beds.
“And now Ofgem is planning to allow homes to be broken into again this winter to install prepayment meters – terrorising those struggling to stay warm.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.