Campaigners build cemetery outside Parliament warning ‘cold homes cost lives’

Hundreds of headstone erected as Greenpeace activists blame government for years of failure to address cold homes 'national scandal'

Greenpeace fuel poverty activists cemetery protest House of Parliament

Activists have constructed a cemetery outside the Houses of Parliament this morning drawing attention to the thousands of avoidable deaths in the UK due to fuel poverty and cold homes.

Hundreds of headstones made of insulation boards were put up in Victoria Tower Gardens along with an eight metre long funeral wreath with the message ‘Cold Homes Cost Lives’, as activists accused the government of failing on energy efficiency policy. 

The protest, staged by Greenpeace UK activists, came as new analysis by the environmental campaign group found 58 people have died every day during winter due to cold homes over the past 11 years. 

More than 70,000 people are estimated to have died because of cold and damp homes since 2013, the year that the Conservative government drastically cut support for home insulation measures. 

Activists said the display hopes to highlight the “needless and shocking” loss of life as the group blamed subsequent Conservative governments for ‘failing’ to reinstate enough funding, and a fall in government backed energy efficiency installations. 

“Thousands of people are literally freezing to death in their own homes during winter”, Paul Morozzo, Greenpeace UK’s fuel poverty campaigner, said.

“And not only have successive governments failed to prevent this needless and shocking loss of life but they have fuelled this silent public health crisis by slashing insulation funding and failing to deliver a proper scheme to upgrade our cold, damp, draughty homes.” 

Morozzo said an investment of at least £6 billion every year was “urgently” needed to end the cold homes “national scandal”, saying insulating homes was one of the “easiest ways possible” to drive down fuel poverty and the cost of living and climate crisis.

Fuel Poverty Action group also attended the protest, sharing  the demands for the government to provide more funding for home insulation, lower people’s bills and tackle fuel poverty. 

“Countless avoidable deaths under this government prove that it was true then as it is now, green policies are a necessity to reducing poverty and driving improvements to social wellbeing,” said Stuart Bretherton of Fuel Poverty Action. 

Repairing and retrofitting the UK’s housing stock would tackle the issue while providing thousands of skilled jobs and reducing household energy usage, Bretherton argued. 

Greenpeace has demanded the Labour Party reinstate its previous £6 billion commitment for insulating homes and have argued for a national retrofit insulation scheme to tackle the climate crisis. 

Greenpeace said the insulation boards used in the cemetery demonstration will be reused in a retrofit project to insulate a home.

(Image credit: Alex McBride / Greenpeace)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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