Fuel poverty and energy inefficiency blamed for recent jump in winter deaths
HOUSING groups and advocacy charities for the elderly have urged the Scottish Government to do more to deal with the “scandalous” number of elderly people dying from poorly heated homes.
Charities point to poor home insulation, fuel poverty and high energy prices as factors making it harder for those on low incomes and the elderly to afford to adequately heat their homes.
The comments follow a report showing there were nearly 3,000 more winter deaths compared to last year.
“It remains a grave concern to us that the condition of many homes in Scotland is still leading to the death of ill and vulnerable people living in fuel poverty.” Lori McElroy
Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “Death rates often increase with colder weather, chiefly because of lower indoor temperatures and not wrapping up enough against the cold when going outside.
“Yet other countries with similar climates do consistently better in protecting their vulnerable citizens, and we must do more.
“Too many homes are colder than is either necessary or healthy for older people, often because of both substandard insulation and scandalously high energy bills.
“A Warm Homes Bill which reduces fuel poverty by incentivising improvements in energy efficiency, raising standards, and promoting shared heating is essential if we want to avoid another lengthy list of preventable loss of life next year.”
“Other countries with similar climates do consistently better in protecting their vulnerable citizens, and we must do more.” Brian Sloan
The annual Winter Mortality in Scotland report published (Tuesday 17 October) by the Scottish Government revealed that 2,850 more people died in Scotland last winter when compared with the rest of the year’s average.
The report also showed that the vast majority of those who died were elderly, which campaigners state shows that Scotland’s cold and damp housing stock must be urgently upgraded.
The definition of fuel poverty according to the Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement of 2002 reads: “A household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime, requires more than 10 per cent of its income to spend on all household fuel use.
“If over 20 per cent of income is required, then this is termed as being in extreme fuel poverty.”
The number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland stands at 34.9 per cent or an estimated 845,000 people.
Currently, the number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland stands at 34.9 per cent or an estimated 845,000 people. The number of households in extreme fuel poverty was at 9.5 per cent or 229,000 persons in 2015.
The Existing Homes Alliance (EHA) acknowledged the Warm Homes Bill soon to be published by the Scottish Government but stated that faster action was required tackle fuel poverty.
In the meantime, the alliance is pressing for a more substantial financial commitment to be made and for much needed regulation to ensure that no one in Scotland is forced to live in fuel poverty as a consequence of a cold and poorly insulated home.
Lori McElroy, chair of the EHA, said: “It remains a grave concern to us that the condition of many homes in Scotland is still leading to the death of ill and vulnerable people living in fuel poverty. The figures published today show the unacceptable cost of the status quo, and they must spur new action.
“The Scottish Government should set an objective of supporting all homes to reach a band C standard for energy performance by 2025 so that no one in the country is living in a cold and draughty home.”
Picture courtesy of Jonas Boni
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