2012 winter deaths increased to 31,000 in England and Wales
Figures published today by the Office for National Statistics reveal a shocking rise in “excess winter mortality” of 29%, amounting to some 31,100 extra deaths in England and Wales alone. The overwhelming majority of those deaths, that is more than 82%, were people aged 75 and over.
More women died than men as a result, and regionally, the North West had the highest “winter mortality index”, with London having the lowest.
The release of these figures comes amid intense debate about energy prices, with all of the so-called Big Six energy firms announcing price increases, despite soaring profit margins, prompting Ofgem, the energy regulator to launch a scathing attack on energy suppliers.
Ofgem’s chief executive Andrew Wright told MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee: “It is not surprising that consumers jump to the conclusion that prices are being driven by profiteering…. I have not said that this level of profit is right or acceptable. Nor have I approved it.”
Profits of the Big Six are now five times greater than they were in 2009, which in light of the latest disturbing figures about excess winter mortality rates has sparked outrage amongst a host of campaign groups.
Caroline Abrahams, director of Age UK said: “Excess winter deaths are preventable and today’s figures are a damning indictment of our failure to address the scandal of cold homes in this country. We strongly believe that the only sustainable solution is investment to increase the energy efficiency of our housing stock so cold homes become a thing of the past.”
An umbrella movement of campaign groups including UK Uncut, Fuel Poverty Action and Disabled People Against Cuts will today launch a wave of protests at the alarming rise of excess winter deaths. James Grainger, from Fuel Action Poverty said: “Energy is a basic need, too important to be left in the hands of profit-hungry private companies.”