Action needed to stop “scandal” of Londoners dying because they can’t afford to heat their homes

Labour London Assembly Member John Biggs has said it is ‘deeply worrying’ that the Mayor of London does not have a strategy for tackling fuel poverty despite entering office in 2008. With 7,075 households in Tower Hamlets now living in fuel poverty John Biggs AM has used Cold Homes Week to highlight the need for urgent action to get a grip on this silent killer.

The capital’s cold homes crisis is hitting an increasing number of families in Tower Hamlets with the latest Government figures revealing that 7.3% of households in the borough cannot afford to adequately heat their homes. Across London as a whole nearly 280,000 families now live in fuel poverty, unable to afford the cost of properly heating their homes. Analysis of ONS figures shows that on average between 2008 and 2013 cold homes were to blame for 853 excess winter deaths each year in London. That means that across the five year period 4,266 Londoners are estimated to have lost their lives as a result of cold and damp housing. In Tower Hamlets 15 people are estimated to have died each year from the effects of excess cold.

Despite fuel poverty levels in Tower Hamlets remaining significant at 7.3%, there are concerns that energy companies are failing to meet their obligations to help make homes more energy efficient. The ‘Energy Company Obligation’, which was introduced in 2013, places a legal obligation on large energy companies to deliver energy efficiency measures to homes across the UK but thus far in Tower Hamlets just 0.3% of households have benefitted from the scheme.

London Assembly Member, John Biggs AM said an urgent Londonwide plan was needed to address the numerous factors contributing to and perpetuating fuel poverty in the capital.

John Biggs, Labour London Assembly Member for City & East London said:

Based on national figures 15 people are dying in the cold each year in Tower Hamlets as a result of being unable to pay their heating bills or simply too terrified to turn the heat on. In a modern and wealthy city like London this is a scandal. The first step to tackle this is to deliver a long-overdue strategy to address this silent killer. And this should be led by London's Mayor.

“London’s cost of living crisis and rising energy bills have seen many households in Barking & Dagenham plunged in fuel poverty. Boris must take immediate and tangible steps to protect the most vulnerable people in our city.

“It is deeply worrying that, seven years into his mayoralty, Boris Johnson is yet to come up with a real strategy for tackling fuel poverty.”

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