On the day George Osborne delivered the Autumn Statement, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the winter mortality figures for 2014 / 2015, which sadly made for very grim reading.
More than 43,000 excess winter deaths occurred in 2014 / 2015, the highest number in 15 years, with 27% more people dying in winter months compared to non-winter months. One of the greatest concerns was that the majority of these deaths occurred in people over the age of 75, with cold homes a key factor in the cause of deaths.
The statistics released by ONS come just days after Age UK urged the government to take ‘urgent action’ to protect older homeowners from the potentially deadly consequences of living in cold, energy inefficient homes. Providing its own startling statistics – that one elderly person will die every seven minutes this winter from cold-related diseases – Age UK’s findings should act as a huge wake up call to the government.
Along with our trade associations, charities and other companies within the industry, we urge the government to act NOW and increase its support in energy efficiency. We are hopeful that the details of the new energy efficiency policy due to replace ECO, announced in the Autumn Statement, will be revealed quickly so that we can start providing help to the most vulnerable homeowners living in fuel poverty.
Excess winter mortality (EWM), 2012/13 to 2014/15 by region
Figures 8a and 8b presents the excess winter mortality (EWM) index for English regions and Wales, for winter 2012/13 to 2014/15. More detailed data showing the number of excess winter deaths (EWDs) and the EWM index, broken down by age for regions of England and Wales, from 1991/92 to 2014/15, are available in Reference Table 2.
- The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 and over; there were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group in 2014/15, compared with 7,700 in people aged under 75.
- There were more excess winter deaths in females than in males in 2014/15, as in previous years. Male excess winter deaths increased from 7,210 to 18,400, and female deaths from 10,250 to 25,500 between 2013/14 and 2014/15.
- Respiratory diseases were the underlying cause of death in more than a third of all excess winter deaths in 2014/15.
- The excess winter mortality index was highest in the South West in 2014/15 and joint lowest in Yorkshire and The Humber, and Wales.
- Excess winter mortality (EWM) by geography