Fuel poverty protests: Pensioners forced to choose ‘eating or heating’

The protest, jointly organised by the National Pensioners’ Convention and Fuel Poverty Action, was staged on Friday morning to call on Downing Street to address rising fuel poverty.

Pensioners and fuel poverty campaigners have marched on Downing Street, demanding the government take action to end excess winter deaths caused by fuel poverty.

The protest, jointly organised by the National Pensioners’ Convention and Fuel Poverty Action, was staged on Friday morning to call on Downing Street to address rising fuel poverty.

It came as as the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released their most recent winter mortality rates for England and Wales, estimating that 63,000 excess winter deaths occurred last year.

The number is significantly higher this year, with Covid-19 being a likely factor, but charities estimate fuel poverty cold-related illnesses alone account for more than 10,000 of the above figures.

Ruth London, Co-director of Fuel Poverty Action. Photo: LondonWorld

Dennot Nyack, 68, and his wife Constance Bartholomew, 65 from Croydon believe the suspension of the “triple lock” safeguard on pensions, has also contributed to these figures.

“Pensioners are having to make this choice, which is to eat or heat,” Mr Nyack told LondonWorld.

“With this government boasting that we are the fifth or sixth richest country in the world, they have taken the fact that these people, the deceased, have contributed to this wealth.

“But once they have finished their working lives or have reached a certain age, they are thrown on the scrap heap and ignored.”

Fuel prices in the UK are expected to rise by at least £139, after energy regulator Ofgem raised the energy price cap.

Beverley Morrison, National Theatre Convention. Photo: LondonWorld

Ruth London, Co-Director of Fuel Poverty Action said: "Deaths from fuel poverty in this wealthy country are not an act of God but an obscenity.

“They’re a result of deliberate policies on housing, fossil fuels, pensions, benefits, taxes, and wages, that cannot be allowed to stand.”

While Beverley Morrison from the National Pensioners Convention said: “The NPC is here today because of the shocking figures every year that are announced for people who are dying, primarily from cold-related illnesses.

Dennot Nyack, 68, Constance Bartholomew, 65 and David Horsley, 75 (right). Photo: LondonWorld

“The figures this year are particularly bad and although they’ve been put it down to Covid, we would argue that a good percentage of those were older, poorer people who couldn’t afford to heat their homes and on top of that they caught Covid, which is a terrible situation to be in.

“We want Boris Johnson to do something about the rocketing fuel prices and the impact it has on older people.”

A government spokesperson said: “We remain committed to protecting the most vulnerable in society and our £500m household support fund was introduced this year to help families with essential costs through the winter.

“Supporting energy consumers is also a key priority, which is why our energy price cap will remain in place, while we continue to help vulnerable and low-income households through initiatives such as the warm home discount scheme, winter fuel payments and cold weather payments.”