UK energy giants were accused of being responsible for a significant number of winter deaths related to cold homes last year.
Around 100 protestors marched across London today – from the Institute of Directors office to Energy UK’s building in Regent Street – chanting ‘Public energy now’ and ‘Bring down the Big Six’.
Traffic came to a standstill as campaigners waved banners that read ‘Pensioners say no more deaths from fuel poverty’ and ‘Energy rights not Energy UK’.
They were protesting against fuel poverty as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed there were 18,200 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2013/14.
They said many people, especially those on low incomes, have had to choose between heating and eating during the winter as a result of the rise in energy bills.
The latest figure is however the lowest number since records began in 1950/51 due to warmer-than-average weather, according to the report.
Previous estimates from the World Health Organisation linked 30% of winter deaths in Europe to cold homes – which suggests more than 6,000 UK deaths last year were a result of the chill.
Clare Welton, Fuel Poverty Action campaigner said: “Energy UK represents everything about what our energy system is now. It’s all about profits, it’s all about companies making as much as they can by any means possible.
“So we’ve come to them today to say that we feel this is the beginning of something new and we’re all going to work together to fight for an energy system that works for us and not for big companies.”
Energy UK said the industry “understands some people may be worried about bills” and it “has no issue with legitimate, lawful protests”.
A spokesperson added: “Concerns about energy costs underline the importance of securing a consensus between policy makers, customers and the energy industry on long-term policies that balance the country’s need for: investment to rebuild and refurbish our energy infrastructure so we continue to have power when we need it, everyone’s desire to produce energy from greener, cleaner sources and the pressing need to do this at a price individuals and business can afford.”