Responding to the Ofgem announcement on the energy price cap, Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation said:
'Today’s announcement confirms the mounting financial pressures facing people this winter.
'Cold, damp homes make people ill. When people are having to make a choice between heating and eating, their health is going to suffer. Many will face the stress of managing debt and, in the long run, the price will be paid in poorer health, more pressure on the NHS, and fewer people in work.
'The cost-of-living crisis should be a spur for action for the new government – bringing forward the Health Disparities White Paper. In particular, it must deliver significant emergency support in the autumn, targeted at lower-income families who are most at risk of poorer health. Without the speed and scale of action we saw through the pandemic, there is a risk the cost-of-living crisis becomes another health crisis.'
Notes to editors
How will the cost-of-living crisis impact on health?
Fuel poverty and health
- Cold weather experienced in the winter months can affect or exacerbate a range of health problems, including respiratory and circulatory conditions, cardio vascular disease, mental health and accidental injury. In some circumstances, health problems may be exacerbated to a degree that they may cause death.
- Estimates suggest that some 10% of excess winter deaths are directly attributable to fuel poverty and 21.5% of excess winter deaths are attributable to the coldest 25% of homes.
- Source: PHE, Fuel poverty and cold home-related health problems.
- People with poor health are already almost twice as unlikely to be able to afford an adequate standard of living. Before the cost-of-living crisis, 13% could not keep up to date with bills; 13% could not keep accommodation warm.
- Over the long run, a £1,000 fall in household income is associated with a 0.7 year fall in female healthy life expectancy.
- Source: https://www.health.org.uk/publications/long-reads/living-in-poverty-was-bad-for-your-health-long-before-COVID-19
- Before the cost-of-living crisis and pandemic, among those with debt in the poorest fifth of households, 18% spent more than 20% of their income on repayments, and nearly one in ten (9%) spent over 40%.
- Among people in problem debt, nearly half report having less than good health (48%) compared to only 22% of those not experiencing problem debt.
- 58% of those people in problem debt have either medium or high anxiety.
- Half of working age people with poor health have no savings whatsoever, compared to one in three with good health.
- Source: https://www.health.org.uk/evidence-hub/money-and-resources/debt