There were 13,400 more deaths in England and Wales in the winter period (December 2021 to March 2022) compared with the average of the non-winter months, figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed.

Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action has warned that up to 4,020 of these deaths were preventable and were caused by the impact of cold homes:  45 people dying per day in the winter months last year – 42 in England and three in Wales. However, because of the time lag of the data, the true picture for this winter is likely to be much worse, the charity says.

Last October 4.5 million UK homes were in fuel poverty, according to the charity’s figures, now – even with government support, it’s 6.7 million UK households. The average annual bill has almost doubled in a year – from £1,271 to £2,500. The charity warns this means next year’s ONS figures are likely to be much worse.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action (NEA), said: “Every year we see the consequences of failing to keep the most vulnerable people safe and warm during the coldest, winter months. Today’s figures show a significant drop in premature winter deaths, partly because of a higher number of deaths outside winter months, but it’s still 45 people per day in the winter months. The truth is that we should not accept any death directly caused by a cold, unsafe home.

“Next year, these statistics will expose the full impact of today’s energy crisis. The toxic combination of extraordinary heating costs, stagnant or falling incomes, and our notoriously poor, unhealthy housing stock will take a heavier toll with lives blighted by debt, ill health, and worse.

“Milder weather may not save us, or thousands of vulnerable households this winter. We must do all we can now to prevent a public health emergency and further needless deaths. Fuel poverty needs long term solutions, but this winter we need the UK Government to give more support and stop millions falling through the cracks with the most awful consequences.”