FEARS are growing for thousands of elderly residents who cannot afford to heat their homes as the big freeze hits.

As the UK braces itself for the Beast from the East, temperatures in some areas could plummet to -15C this week, with concerns people will lose their lives.

Stretford and Urmston MP Kate Green raised her concerns on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day last Friday, and said people are dying because of the effects of the cold.

Statistics from the all-party Parliamentary group on fuel poverty and energy efficiency showed that, in the constituency of Stretford and Urmston, 4,784 households live in fuel poverty.

In England, a household is considered to be in fuel poverty if the home has higher than typical energy costs (for instance because of poor energy efficiency) and, were they to spend that amount on energy, they’d live in poverty.

Last year, there were 55 winter deaths in Stretford and Urmston.

The charity National Energy Action (NEA) estimates almost a third of these were attributed to cold homes.

Ms Green said “It’s shocking that more than 4,000 households round here can’t afford to heat their homes.

“People are trying their best to make ends meet but it’s so difficult when people are living in energy inefficient homes that are difficult and expensive to heat. We can’t go on like this.”

Across the North West 65 per cent of houses are at the lowest standards of energy efficiency and fuel poor households in the region typically need to pay £352 more than their more affluent neighbours to sustain a warm home.

Ms Green claims England is now the only UK nation without a government funded energy efficiency programme.

The NEA also found that people who rent their homes from a private landlord tend to be in deeper fuel poverty, with an average fuel poverty gap of £410, compared with £175 for those in local authority housing.

This, in addition to the high costs of rent in Trafford leaves many local families in poverty.

Ms Green added: “The next Labour government will insulate four million homes as an infrastructure priority and introduce an emergency price cap to ensure the average bill remains below £1,000 per year while we transition to a fairer system for bill payers.”