Source : Rob Mansfield
Published on 05 April 2013 09:00 AM
The number of deaths last month has increased by more than 5,000, following the second-coldest March on record.
Official figures for the first 3 weeks of March 2013 showed that there were 4,206 more deaths than the average for the past 5 years.
With another 1,000 expected during the last week of the month, this pushes the number of extra deaths to over 5,000.
Michelle Mitchell, Age UK's Charity Director-General, said: 'It’s really worrying that the number of deaths in March this year are significantly higher than the average for the previous five years.
'Cold homes are particularly dangerous to the health of older people and are a major contributing factor to the high numbers of excess winter deaths in this country.
In total, there were 33,500 deaths over the first 3 weeks of March 2013, compared with an average of 29,294 over the last 5 years.
The deaths come in spite of 635,000 cold weather payments during March - a result of 7 days of below-freezing temperatures - whereas last March, there were none.
Inevitably, older people are hit hardest by the freezing conditions - on average 90% of winter deaths affect people over 60.
'People living in the coldest homes are three times as likely to die from a cold-related illness compared to those in warmer homes,' said Michelle Mitchell.
'We are trailing behind our European counterparts when it comes to providing decent housing that people can afford to heat, and it is the oldest and most vulnerable who are suffering.'
During the winter of 2011-12, more than 24,000 older people died needlessly, as a result of cold-related illnesses.
Age UK's research shows that 36% of people aged 60 or over in Great Britain stay or live in just one heated room of their home to save money.
Michelle Mitchell said: 'The government must invest new carbon taxes in a programme of energy efficiency to bring Britain’s housing stock into the 21st century and enable people to benefit from the heat they use.'
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Caroline Abrahams is Age UK’s Charity Director, and has worked predominantly on children and family issues throughout her career.
She was Director of Policy and Strategy at the children’s charity Action for Children and Chair of the End Child Poverty campaign before joining the Local Government Association.
She then moved on to become Senior Policy Adviser in the Department for Children, Schools and Families and more recently she has been an adviser to the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls.
Her policy interests include poverty, public service reform and safeguarding.
James is head of our research department in Age UK.
His responsibilities include:
He has a Visiting Professorship in Ageing at Loughborough University.
Jane Vass is Head of Public Policy at Age UK. She joined Age Concern England as Financial Services Policy Adviser in 2006.
She was previously an independent consumer consultant and writer specialising in financial services from the consumer viewpoint.
In this capacity she undertook research such as reports for the National Consumer Council on equity release and on savings and investments for low-income consumers.
She was a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel from 1999 to 2003, and from 1983 to 1993 she worked for Consumers’ Association.
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