Council pledges to tackle fuel poverty amid high numbers of winter deaths

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THE city council has vowed to increase help for residents struggling to keep their homes warm as it was revealed around 40 people in Portsmouth died last winter due to living in 'avoidable' cold conditions.

According to the Office for National Statistics there were 140 excess winter deaths in the city last year, of which it is thought an estimated 30 per cent were attributable to living in cold homes.

Portsmouth council will consider a public consultation on how to tackle fuel poverty

Portsmouth council will consider a public consultation on how to tackle fuel poverty

And between August 2014 and July 2017 there were 383 additional deaths during the winter - affecting a higher proportion of the population than the national average.

Now Portsmouth City Council is looking to increase efforts to make homes more energy efficient - also reducing carbon emissions, aiming to target more homes with a new detailed strategy and public consultation.

Councillor Darren Sanders, the council's housing boss, said: 'We know that in some cases people have to choose between heating and eating and we don't want it to come down to that.'

The council currently offers services through the Local Energy Advice Partnership (Leap) ranging from replacing lights with energy efficient bulbs to providing insulation.

Leap visits around 500 households a year and a further 110 have benefited from new central heating systems as part of the Warmer Homes scheme.

'By April 2021 we want to make sure we have contacted 2,000 households with the worst energy efficiency in the city and make sure we can fund around 500 of those to generate improvements,' Cllr Sanders said.

'The worst areas in Portsmouth are roads of old terraced homes.'

More than 11,000 households - or 12.1 per cent - in Portsmouth are estimated to be in fuel poverty, meaning they cannot afford to keep their homes adequately warm. This is higher than the average for England of 10.9 per cent.

Maria Wardrobe from charity National Energy Action said: 'I am delighted that Portsmouth is looking to address the issue of excess winter deaths in the city, recognising that figures are above the national average.

'Improving the energy efficiency of the homes of those who are vulnerable is the only sustainable solution to tackling this problem.'

Councillors will discuss plans to tackle fuel poverty on Tuesday, November 5.