Fuel poverty could mean thousands of Brits die early this year, according to a new study from charity Marie Curie, as concerns grow that fuel poverty could have severe effects for people at the end of their lives.
High energy bills, delays in receiving benefit payments and extra costs associated with illness are putting terminally ill people at risk, Marie Curie said in the report. Living in cold, damp housing can exacerbate symptoms, trigger new infections and impact people’s mental wellbeing while speeding up death in the worst cases.
“I’ve been in situations where I have heated up rice and put it in a pillowcase to keep patients warm,” said Beth Namara, a Marie Curie nurse who has been caring for terminally ill people for six years. On some visits she said she has found people shivering, with no blankets or money to afford to heat their home.
People should be supported at the end of life and not have to worry about heating their home. We're calling for all terminally ill people to receive the help, information and support they need to have a warm home: https://t.co/ZPXTtsGiuupic.twitter.com/tAl6toN5Qv
— Marie Curie (@mariecurieuk) November 27, 2020
Cold housing was to blame for nearly 20,000 excess winter deaths from respiratory diseases between 2014 and 2019, according to the study, as well as 10,900 from dementia.
Researchers took World Health Organisation estimates that 30 per cent of excess winter deaths are down to cold, damp homes and applied that to Office for National Statistics data on excess winter deaths to produce the figures.