Friday, October 21, 2011

UK: Thousands dying because they can't afford heating bills

More than 2,700 people are dying each year in England and Wales because they cannot afford to keep their homes warm, according to an official study. The spiralling cost of gas and electricity combined with the impact of green taxes is putting health and lives at risk, researchers found. The study concluded that green taxes on household power bills are ‘regressive’ and have a disproportionate impact on poorer households.

The warning of the dangers to health comes from social policy expert Professor John Hills, of the London School of Economics, in a study commissioned by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne.

On the policy of adding green taxes to bills, Professor Hills said: ‘Those energy and climate policies that lead to higher prices will largely have a regressive impact.’

He highlighted a government study which found that the poorest one-fifth of households would see their income fall 0.8 per cent as a direct result of green taxes and the move to renewable energy, while the richest fifth would break even.

Professor Hills said: ‘Whether this regressive outcome, which would tend to increase fuel poverty, occurs depends on both more recent developments, such as the Warm Home Discount, and decisions yet to be taken.’

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