Figures for England and Wales, released by the Office for
National Statistics, show a big rise in the number of winter deaths
An estimated 31,100 excess winter deaths occurred in 2012/13 - a
29% increase on the previous winter.
Older people particularly at risk
The Office for National Statistics data, which compares deaths
in winter months with averages in other seasons, shows most of the
deaths involved people over 75.
Cold weather and flu mainly explain the trends
Although last Winter was milder than average in December, there
followed a prolonged period of lower than average temperatures.
March 2013 was the coldest since 1962 with an average monthly
temperature of just 2.6°C.
The number of winter deaths peaked in the first week of January,
which coincided with a peak in rates of influenza-like illness over
the Christmas weeks.
The death rate remained higher than average for a prolonged
period between February and April 2013.
While excess winter deaths are linked to low temperatures,
hypothermia is not the main cause.
Experience shows that the majority of such deaths are due to
heart disease, stroke and respiratory illness.
Comment from Age UK
The charity Age UK said the figures were "shameful" and urged
the government to lower energy bills so that those who are most
vulnerable - the frail and elderly - can keep their homes warm
The energy regulator Ofgem has criticised the profit margins of
the big gas and electricity suppliers.
Age UK's director Caroline Abrahams, said: "Excess winter deaths
are preventable and today's figures are a damning indictment of our
failure to address the scandal of cold homes in this country.
"We strongly believe that the only sustainable solution is
investment to increase the energy efficiency of our housing stock
so cold homes become a thing of the past."
Help in cold weather
If you are receiving certain benefits or are an older person,
don't forget you may qualify for specific additional winter
- Cold Weather Payments - extra money paid to
people on certain benefits to help with fuel costs during periods
of very cold weather.
- Winter Fuel Payments - a one-off, tax-free
payment made during the winter made to people over a certain age to
help with fuel costs during the winter.
Energy Efficiency Grants
If you need help with energy efficiency improvements in your
privately-owned or rented home, there are a number of energy
efficiency grants available to help pay for extra insulation or
Read the Turn2us grants for energy efficiency
If you are struggling to pay your fuel bills, use our Benefits
Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our
database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable
fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and
The Turn2us Information and Resources section
contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money,
including useful links sheets and a Find an
Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of
See also the Turn2us Fuel Poverty
Keeping well and warm
This weather could increase your health risks, especially if you
are older or have a health condition or disability.
NHS Choices has
more information on winter health and how to keep warm and well
(link opens in a new window).
If you are concerned about your health or delivery of health or
social care services to you in bad weather, contact your doctor's
surgery or local
council's social services department (link opens in a new
Source and quotes from: BBC News: Steep
rise in Winter deaths (link opens in a new window)
Also in the news
Date of publication: 26 November 2013