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Excess Winter Deaths Debate

  • 09/06/2016
  • Author:

UK less prepared than other European countries

Houses of Parliament

On Monday 6 June, Dan Jarvis, Labour MP for Barnsley Central, opened a debate on excess winter deaths. He noted that there were 43,000 in 2014-15 and said the UK was under performing compared to other countries with colder climates - with older people most at risk.

He stated: “It is simply unacceptable that each year tens of thousands of people are dying unnecessarily. I am calling today for the government to bring forward a national strategy for reducing excess winter deaths.

“The majority of those dying are elderly but…we also know from the evidence across Europe that more people are dying unnecessarily than they should be.”

One of the reasons for this, Jarvis argued, was that UK was less prepared than other European countries and called on all political parties to do more.

No Cold Homes

Our No Cold Homes campaign research last year found that one in two low income households are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work. Worryingly, of those households struggling with energy costs, nearly half (48%) had done so for more than a year.

As part of the campaign, we highlighted the lack of awareness amongst the public of the numerous schemes energy companies have to help their vulnerable customers. Of those who were struggling to pay their energy costs, only 12% had told their energy supplier about their situation and only 5% had turned to an advice organisation for help. A huge 83% are unaware that some energy suppliers have charitable trusts set up to help certain customers.

Comment from Turn2us

Kathie Clark, who leads Turn2us’ vulnerable customer work, commented: “We welcome anything that draws attention to this problem. So often, the help that people need is already there. Even though we are several months away from winter, we’d encourage people to prepare as early as possible by contacting their energy supplier and learning about the help they provide. Similarly, we’d also encourage anyone who has a friend, relative or neighbour who might be eligible for help to make sure that they are getting that assistance.

"The number of excess winter deaths is shocking, especially as help with essential bills exists but people either don’t know about it or find the prospect of approaching their service provider just too off putting.”

Turn2us help

Turn2us has information on Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments.

If you are struggling financially, visit our #BenefitsAware section to check your  benefits entitlements and make sure you are claiming everything you are entitled to. There is also our Grants Search, which has almost 3000 charitable funds listed with information on eligibility based on background, personal circumstances and needs. This includes energy company grant-giving funds and social tariff schemes, including British Gas Energy Trust.

 You may also find it helpful to read our Grants for Energy Efficiency information.

The Your Situation section on our website contains information resources on benefits and grants depending on your specific situation and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find face-to-face advice in your local area.

Source: Yorkshire Post news article: Thousands of Elderly dying over winter 

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