Warmth and Health: The Benefits of Action and the Penalties of Inaction
All of the statistics on income levels, fuel prices and rates of heat loss tend to disguise the human cost of fuel poverty, which is at its most severe when people are sick or die through cold-related ill health. The annual toll of excess winter deaths was one of the major reasons for initial concerns, dating from 1972 (Boardman, 1991, p23), though the focus then was on hypothermia. This, the most extreme form of cold-related death, is recognized as less of an issue now; but there remains a seasonal increase of deaths in winter. There is also an increasing awareness that many people become ill and need the services of the National Health Service (NHS), but fortunately do not die. These illnesses have financial as well as human impacts and will be the continuing and growing legacy of inaction on fuel poverty.