The hon. Gentleman makes a very interesting point. There is scope for communities to regain control of their energy supplies in the longer term. That is certainly something the Government should look at. There are a number of other important points that I would like the Minister to address today, so I will continue with my submission.
The health impacts of fuel poverty are worst for those who are most vulnerable—for example, disabled people who find it difficult to move around and do not get the chance to warm up; young people, who run twice the risk of developing a respiratory condition such as asthma; and adolescents, who face a fivefold increase in the likelihood of mental illness. Evidence also highlights that infants living in cold conditions have a 30% greater risk of admission to hospital or primary care facilities. Older people also face a significantly high risk, as the Marmot review team highlighted, stating that they are almost three times more likely to suffer from coughing, wheezing and respiratory illness.
Sir John Hills, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, states that there is a body of persuasive evidence that links low temperatures with a number of health impacts, ranging from minor infections to serious medical conditions that can ultimately prove fatal. Sadly, that has proven to be the case, with the NEA finding that an average of over 8,000 people in England and Wales die each winter because they cannot keep their homes warm at a reasonable cost. That estimate includes eight attributable deaths in my constituency of Salford and Eccles—eight deaths.