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28 November 2014

1,100 excess winter deaths in Wales simply not good enough

Figures released today reveal that there were an estimated 1,100 excess winter deaths in Wales in 2013/14. The majority, 73%, were over the age of 75. The figure for England and Wales is estimated at 18,200 and is the lowest since records began.

Commenting on the figures, Chris Jones, Chief Executive of Care & Repair Cymru said: “Although this is a considerable decrease from last year, it still isn’t good enough. Last winter was relatively mild and many older people still had difficult decisions to make about whether to heat their home or eat. With 140,000 pensioner households in fuel poverty in Wales, meaning they are spending more than 10% of their household income on fuel costs – the situation is likely to get worse.”

As part of their ‘Fighting Fuel Poverty’ winter campaign, Care & Repair Cymru has set up a hardship fund with 100% of funds going directly to help older people living in cold homes. They are urging better off pensioners who don’t need their Winter Fuel Payment, a payment of between £100 and £300 which is paid automatically to pensioners each year, to donate it to Care & Repair to provide more solutions to those in real need.

Chris added: “Last year, Care & Repair agencies provided energy related solutions to almost 2,000 older people and a further 1,000 older people were supported with issues of damp housing. If people were to donate their Winter Fuel Payment to us, we’d ensure that it is used to help those who need it most.”

“As we head into this winter, Governments need a rebalancing of policy focus to ensure that tackling fuel poverty and stopping winter deaths of older people receives as much attention as reducing C02 emissions.”

“While there have been numerous successful grant schemes to help make energy improvements to people’s homes, many of the schemes are target driven but not always reaching those in greatest need. There is a lot of confusion among older people about what help and support is available and people are missing out. The current system isn’t working because we still have people dying in winter due to fuel poverty, who wouldn’t be dying in other months of the year.”

Chris added: “We’re only a phone call away, so if you’re an older person or have a relative, neighbour or friend in need of help, please call one of our local agencies on 0300 111 3333. Care & Repair can reach out and spread a bit human kindness and warmth this winter to those feeling left out in the cold.”