Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics reveal a shocking rise in “excess winter mortality” of 29%, amounting to some 31,100 extra deaths in England and Wales alone. The overwhelming majority of those deaths, that is more than 82%, were people aged 75 and over.
The figures for 2012-13 showed that people aged over 75 comprised 25,600 of the total, and was higher in females (18,000) than males (13,100).
Today in London and elsewhere, in cities and towns around the country Protest groups including UK Uncut and Fuel Poverty Action demonstrated against energy providers Npower and British Gas and others over the rise in energy prices. I took part in the London protest that ended up outside the head office of Npower located in the City of London.
We marched on Npower offices with a coffin filled with bills and held a "speak-out", where those hardest hit by "fuel poverty" spoke of their experiences and struggle to keep warm, put food on the table and pay the rising bills.
The gathering was not as big as anticipated, but nevertheless it was vocal and very spirited; when I say not big, I mean about 500, then again the weather (cold), the travelling costs and during the week may have rendered many unable to attend.
It’s hard to believe, but still I remember when Gas and Electricity supply was once owned and held by central government and supposedly for the nation. We had two meters in my parents house, one to pay the gas and the other for the electric, you had to put a shilling in the slot and then turn a metal flange all the way round until it dropped, they were of course coin operated and most people had them; the meter reader would come around empty the meters, count out the money and then hand you some back and we kids at the time thought this was great, and it was for many a mother who was feeding, helping to bring up a young family. One other thing about the meter men is they looked like a bus conductor with a big leather bag for the cash - maybe he had a bin on wheels as well?
The nationalisation of the Big Six and increased use of renewable energy would tackle the problem of fuel poverty as a first step but not the final, that could only be, when all the worlds resources belong to humankind to use collectively and not for profiteering by the few.