Sun, 21 July 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
Time to listen to construction industry experts if we’re to truly “get Britain building” Partner content
Cutting electricity bills to boost net-zero Partner content
By The MCS Foundation
Prioritise progress on a deposit return scheme to start delivering on the Green Prosperity Plan Partner content
A gas distribution network preparing for the energy transition Partner content
Plug in to unlock: the benefits of smart meter-enabled EV flexibility Partner content
By Cornwall Insight
Press releases

The new prime minister must step up to tackle fuel poverty before more lives are lost

Trying to keep warm as fuel bills rocket. (Michael Heath / Alamy)

3 min read

The news reports out today about the swathes of families in the UK likely to fall into fuel poverty this winter are frightening.

Both as a director at a lung health charity and as a parent, it is clear to me that the government must act urgently to protect children and their families from the life-threatening effects of skyrocketing fuel costs.

At Asthma + Lung UK we’re hearing worrying reports that people are being forced to cut back on buying their life-saving medication, as people are faced with the impossible choice of paying for their medication or putting food on the table.

The situation is desperate, and we fear that soon people will be priced out of breathing

We’ve already seen calls to our helpline and webpages offering advice on financial support and benefits increase as people start to feel the bite of the cost of living crisis. And this is before the crunch of trying to heat homes through the winter has been felt by families. 

We know winter is the most dangerous season for people with lung conditions, as breathing in cold air irritates airways, making the lungs become tighter and breathing more difficult. 

The cold is also a common trigger that can lead to life-threatening lung flare-ups and asthma attacks, which can leave people fighting for breath.

People should feel safe in their own homes. But having a cold home also means those with lung conditions are at a higher risk of getting a lung infection. Cold and flu viruses thrive in colder temperatures and environments, which are poorly ventilated and damp. We also know being exposed over long periods of time to cold and mould also affects the immune system, reducing our ability to fight off lung infections.

The situation is desperate, and we fear that soon people will be priced out of breathing. What is needed is action. Action from our government. 

I’m calling on the new prime minister, due to enter No 10 next week, to provide targeted financial support to people with lung conditions and on low incomes. This should include full reimbursement for all electricity costs linked to life-saving medical devices such as nebulisers and home oxygen therapy, as well as free prescription charges for those with lung conditions.

For too long the nation’s lungs have been a clear victim of poverty and health inequality. We must take steps to change this, before thousands more lives are put at risk.  

If you or your family are concerned about managing your lung condition, you can give the Asthma + Lung UK helpline a call on 0300 222 5800 or get information from our website at

Henry Gregg is director of policy and external affairs at Asthma + Lung UK.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.


Health Economy Energy
Engineering a Better World

The Engineering a Better World podcast series from The House magazine and the IET is back for series two! New host Jonn Elledge discusses with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

NEW SERIES - Listen now