Britain will face a “humanitarian crisis” this winter over difficult choices being forced on low-income households by rising energy bills, which could cause serious physical and mental illness, a UK lobby group said on Friday. health sector.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted calls to provide more support to households struggling with higher bills, insisting his government will leave major fiscal decisions to the next prime minister who takes office in early September.
“The country is facing a humanitarian crisis,” said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organizations in the health sector.
“Many people may be faced with the dire choice of skipping meals to heat their homes or having to live in cold, damp and very unpleasant conditions,” Taylor said in a statement.
The situation could lead to outbreaks of respiratory conditions, mental illness, worsen children’s living conditions and increase pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), which is already stretched thin, he added.
A British Health Ministry spokesman said the government was already helping households through a 37 billion pound ($44 billion) aid package announced in May, and was also working to increase NHS capacity.
The average annual bill for British households, which includes gas and electricity, looks set to double again to over £4,000 ($4,766) in January, adding to inflation, which was already above 10% in July.
Under mounting pressure, Johnson’s government said last week it was working on a cost-of-living support package for the next prime minister to consider, while the opposition Labor Party wants to ask Parliament energy bills freeze.
The NHS Confederation was concerned that “energy poverty”, in the absence of more government help, would lead to more deaths associated with cold homes, currently estimated at around 10,000 a year.