Figures released by the Office of National Statistics predict that the number of people dying prematurely in winter 2014-15 are two and half times higher than in the previous winter.
In Batley & Spen the reported number of excess deaths has averaged 52 over the past five years. However since the total for England and Wales has leapt from 17,460 to 43,900 it is almost certain that we will see a worrying growth in local figures.
The number of excess winter deaths (EWD) are defined as the difference between the number of deaths which occurred in the winter months of December to March and the average number of deaths which occurred in the rest of the year.
Jo Cox MP said: “These figures are quite shocking and something we should be concerned about. Our most vulnerable neighbours are clearly at risk and what’s more worrying is that there has been a huge rise during one of the mildest winters in recent years.
“As the weather turns cold this week we are gravely concerned for the many people living in fuel poverty. Those on low incomes and in poor quality housing will suffer the most.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that between 30 and 50% of EWDs are caused by poorly insulated cold homes.
The ONS figures show that fatalities in women have more than doubled with people aged over 75 worst affected.
Clive Lewis, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, says: “The latest figures show the highest number of EWDs since the winter of 1999, with many of these being older people, often living in homes with poor insulation. Yet the government is cutting back on life-saving energy efficiency measures by up to 65%.
“Labour believes that everybody has a right to access the basic level of energy they need to keep their home warm enough to live in. With 2.35 million households now living in fuel poverty, this government clearly doesn’t share our vision.”