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Campaigners’ plea to end fuel poverty

18,200 winter deaths laid at the door of big energy fims

CAMPAIGNERS blocked the entrance to Energy UK yesterday in protest over the thousands of people who died last winter due to cold homes.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed there were 18,200 of excess winter deaths last year, almost 80 per cent of those dying being over 75.

To mark another year in which steep energy bills claimed the lives of many, activists from Fuel Poverty Action marched to the headquarters of Britain's energy industry trade association in London's Regent Street. Its members, including EDF and British Gas, supply energy to 26 million homes.

The campaign's Laura Hill told the Star: "We're here today to show solidarity and support to those who have suffered from fuel poverty and those who have died from fuel poverty."

She added that the government had done little to tackle the problem, focusing on the "the symptoms rather than the cause.

"The only way that you're going to overcome this is by removing a system that is made for profits and introduce a public system that's run by the people," said Ms Hill.

The march ended in a "die in" and a rally outside Charles House where many spoke about the squeeze between plummeting wages and rocketing bills.

All African Women's Group spokeswoman Geraldine Takundwa said: "Women do find it difficult because some of them don't have any support at all, so they are not even able to pay any bills.

"They have to go to charity organisations like ours where they will come and have something like breakfast, lunch and something before they go home towards evening time."

She added that while some Londoners may have two or three houses, she can't even heat her only home.

"We are in duvet covers, we are in blankets. If you come home, you think you're outside because we are always wearing jackets - that's not life," she continued. "Energy is a human right."

Despite showing a slight drop in winter deaths in 2013 the ONS has suggested the statistic is skewed by a milder winter.

The National Pensioners Convention demanded that government admit the drop is thanks to "luck rather than design.

"Of course any fall in winter deaths is welcome, but 150 pensioners dying a day can hardly be described as a cause for celebration," said the group's general secretary Dot Gibson.

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