Domestic Energy billing system leads to deaths



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The Public Health Association (PHA) UK says that the two-tier tariff system – which means the first unit costs more – penalises the poorest residents.

The Association is appealing for the “iniquitous” system to be reviewed so that the cheaper unit comes first.

Energy companies have responded to this appeal by suggesting this would then hit the most vulnerable who spend the day at home and that they continued to spend £150m helping their most vulnerable consumers every year.

There are on average more than 30,000 deaths each year caused by the low temperature.

PHA Chairman Professor John Ashton said “winter death rates are much higher in Britain than in Scandinavia” something that the chairman suggested as shamerful.

“What’s happening in a lot of these houses is that you’ll have an elderly person, perhaps a widow on their own on a low pension, struggling to keep the house warm,” he said.

“She’ll keep one room warm and then at bedtime she’ll go up to her bedroom which is cold. She’ll get chilled, and then she’ll get a chest infection, go on to get pneumonia and that’s it.”
Fuel costs have seen a significant rise in the last few years but Prof Ashton suggests that the problem lies with the two-tier tariff used by the energy companies here in the UK.

“We spend a lot of effort trying to prevent premature deaths at all ages but particularly in the elderly.

“This is something that we ought to be able to do quite simply, and one of the things is addressing this iniquitous pricing structure.”

The effects of the recent cold snap is beginning to become clear in the death rates – with 200 extra deaths in December in Cumbria.

Prof Ashton says the tariff should be turned on its head – with a low energy price to cover the basics, and then more expensive for people who use more. He says this approach would also discourage waste.

Prof Ashton has suggested that if the tariff were to be switched so that the cheaper energy comes first, this will help people to cover the basics with more expense for those who use more.

The charity Age UK has backed the idea, as has the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth.

Energy UK representative Christine McGourty, says this kind of restructure of the tariff is likely to be expensive and complicated and may lead to no benefit in the long term for those who its designed to help.

“Many of those higher users are using a lot of energy for a reason. They are families who are at home a lot through the day with children.

“They need to heat their homes and they need to keep warm. That’s why they’re using a lot of energy. And for those people, changing it would make things a lot worse.

According to Energy UK the industry spent £150m on helping the most vulnerable including: special discounts, rebates and free insulation.

The Association is appealing for the “iniquitous” system to be reviewed so that the cheaper unit comes first.

Energy companies have responded to this appeal by suggesting this would then hit the most vulnerable who spend the day at home and that they continued to spend £150m helping their most vulnerable consumers every year.

There are on average more than 30,000 deaths each year caused by the low temperature.

PHA Chairman Professor John Ashton said “winter death rates are much higher in Britain than in Scandinavia” something that the chairman suggested as shamerful.

“What’s happening in a lot of these houses is that you’ll have an elderly person, perhaps a widow on their own on a low pension, struggling to keep the house warm,” he said.

“She’ll keep one room warm and then at bedtime she’ll go up to her bedroom which is cold. She’ll get chilled, and then she’ll get a chest infection, go on to get pneumonia and that’s it.”
Fuel costs have seen a significant rise in the last few years but Prof Ashton suggests that the problem lies with the two-tier tariff used by the energy companies here in the UK.

“We spend a lot of effort trying to prevent premature deaths at all ages but particularly in the elderly.

“This is something that we ought to be able to do quite simply, and one of the things is addressing this iniquitous pricing structure.”

The effects of the recent cold snap is beginning to become clear in the death rates – with 200 extra deaths in December in Cumbria.

Prof Ashton says the tariff should be turned on its head – with a low energy price to cover the basics, and then more expensive for people who use more. He says this approach would also discourage waste.

Prof Ashton has suggested that if the tariff were to be switched so that the cheaper energy comes first, this will help people to cover the basics with more expense for those who use more.

The charity Age UK has backed the idea, as has the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth.

Energy UK representative Christine McGourty, says this kind of restructure of the tariff is likely to be expensive and complicated and may lead to no benefit in the long term for those who its designed to help.

“Many of those higher users are using a lot of energy for a reason. They are families who are at home a lot through the day with children.

“They need to heat their homes and they need to keep warm. That’s why they’re using a lot of energy. And for those people, changing it would make things a lot worse.

According to Energy UK the industry spent £150m on helping the most vulnerable including: special discounts, rebates and free insulation.

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