A NATIONAL SCANDAL – Help the Aged condemns winter death figure

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‘THESE figures are nothing short of a national scandal.  It’s obscene that in this day and age more than 25,000 people aged 65 and over in the UK are allowed to die from the cold.’

Paul Cann, director of policy for Help the Aged was responding to the annual excess winter death figures from the Office for National Statistics which show a one per cent increase in the number of deaths amongst those aged 65 and over in the UK.

He added: ‘The bottom line is that until fuel poverty is eradicated, older people’s lives will literally continue to hang in the balance.

‘In England we’re still waiting for a government progress report on fuel poverty – it’s likely it will show there is still a treacherous mountain to climb.

‘The winter fuel payment also needs a major revamp.  Where it once helped people with around half of their fuel bills, it now barely covers a fifth.

‘In the longer term, the quality of housing stock must be improved, but progress on Warm Front also seems rather quiet. 

‘These figures are yet another shocking example of government inaction causing older people’s suffering, in some cases to the point of death.’

The figures were issued yesterday morning from the Office for National Statistics covering 2006/07 ‘excess winter deaths’.

For people aged 65 and over figures show a UK rise of more than one per cent.

The British Gas Help the Aged Partnership runs its annual excess winter deaths campaign to stop the cold killing older people.

This year, along with providing practical, educational and financial tools and services for older people, the Partnership is calling for government to introduce automatic payment of benefits and to invest more in face-to-face benefits advice programmes to ensure pensioners are receiving the benefits needed to survive the winter.