Eat or Heat: Britons angry at energy prices amid soaring ‘winter deaths’
Published on Dec 3, 2013
Britain’s energy suppliers are under-fire after the government pledged to cut bills. But this comes as little comfort to the thousands of UK families stuck below the poverty line and still unable to heat their homes, even with the promised help. RT’s Tesa Arcilla has more.
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“Many families are facing stark and unacceptable choices, like heat or eat. This is disgraceful in any country, especially in one of the world’s richest.”
The UK based Children’s Society charity has revealed shocking figures, suggesting that half of children in the UK are living in houses that are too cold. Meanwhile, a quarter of their houses are said to be too damp.
In a study of 2,000 children, 76% said that their family was not well-off, 53% said their house was too cold last winter, 26% said their house had a dampness or mold problem and 24% said their houses were much colder than they could bear. Moreover, 55% said they felt embarrassed about being poor while 14% said they had been bullied because of it.
Cameron’s heating bill cut as energy prices soar
The Prime Minister’s heating bill is coming down this winter as hard-up families face price rises of almost 10 per cent
David Cameron is paying less to heat his Downing Street flat this winter thanks to top rate tax breaks while most British families face inflation-busting price hikes of about 10 per cent.
A cut in the top rate of income tax from 50 per cent to 45 per cent means the amount the Prime Minister has to pay for utilities on his Downing Street flat will be reduced by nearly £400.
News of Cameron’s saving came as a Conservative-led coalition voted out a Labour motion to freeze energy bills by 295 to 237.
The Prime Minister was labelled a hypocrite by opponents who said he should focus on helping ordinary Britons who are struggling with soaring gas and electricity bills rather than benefiting from tax cuts himself.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex said: “People will be angry and astonished at the front of a PM who claims to feel their pain, when the hypocritical reality is it’s one rule for him and another for the rest of us.”
About 10,000 of the deaths are estimated to be the result of cold houses, as people struggled to heat their homes in the coldest winter for nearly 50 years, against a backdrop of soaring energy prices.
The vast majority of those who perished were over 75. The number of “excess” deaths was up 29 per cent on the previous year. Britain’s biggest pensioners’ organisation, the National Pensioners Convention, said the figures were a “national scandal”.
Referring to the dismissive language reportedly used by David Cameron to describe the bill levies used to fund home insulation, the NPC’s national secretary Dot Gibson said: “Making sure older people have got a well-insulated warm home and the income to pay the fuel bills isn’t ‘green crap’. It’s what a decent society should do.”
The shadow Public Health minister Luciana Berger called for urgent action to ease pressure on A&E wards and to help people pay their energy bills. She said: “A third of these excess deaths are caused by people living in homes that are too cold. This winter, David Cameron’s failure to stand up to the energy companies will leave too many people forced to choose between heating and eating.”