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Fuel poverty: an issue for older people. Mary Milne, Senior Campaigns Officer, Age UK. About Age UK. Merger of Age Concern England and Help the Aged in 2008 Work in partnership with independent local Age UKs and older people’s groups.

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Fuel poverty an issue for older people

Fuel poverty:an issue for older people

Mary Milne, Senior Campaigns Officer, Age UK

About age uk
About Age UK

  • Merger of Age Concern England and Help the Aged in 2008

  • Work in partnership with independent local Age UKs and older people’s groups.

  • Provide information to over 5 million people, run commercial services with over 1.1m customers and have 530 retail shops.

  • Campaign on issues that affect the rights, wellbeing and dignity of older people.

The numbers
The numbers

  • 31,100 ‘excess winter deaths’ last winter (England & Wales)

  • 9/10 deaths are of people 65+

  • Average 24,000 additional deaths each winter

  • That’s 16 x deaths from road traffic accidents

  • More than 1 million older people in fuel poverty (new definition)

The reality
The reality

‘I could only afford to have my heating on in the morning for an hour or so and then at night. So through the day it was horrendous, it was bitterly cold in this house, bitterly cold. It was damp too – all my clothes were damp, even in the wardrobe.

‘In the winter you put £25 a week on your gas, £20 a week for your electric that’s £45 gone. That’s without everything else. We don’t have luxuries in this house. I don’t even have a carpet that fits. My priority is to try to keep some warmth in the house.’

Causes of winter deaths
Causes of winter deaths

  • Less than 1% due to hypothermia

  • Small number of deaths due to influenza, except in epidemic years (eg winter ’89/90)

  • Around 30% due to respiratory illness (eg COPD, bronchitis) 12 day ‘lag effect’

  • Around 40% due to cardiovascular problems (heart attack, stroke) 3-7 day ‘lag effect’

This is preventable
This is preventable

  • Many much colder countries have lower mortality ratesWHY?

  • Cultural practices: people know how to keep warm

  • Warmer, better insulated houses

Cold homes
Cold homes

  • Excess winter deaths highest among those living in the coldest homes

  • UK housing stock among the most energy inefficient in Europe

  • Older people tend to spend more time at home

  • Fixed incomes have not kept pace with rising energy prices

What is age uk doing
What is Age UK doing?

  • Local services to keep older people warm and well

  • eg Age UK Hillingdon ‘Get ready for winter’

  • Information and advice on staying warm – flu clinics

  • Blankets, hot water bottle covers, bed socks & emergency food parcels

  • Electric blanket exchange scheme

  • Winter warmth lunch club

  • Information for professionals

  • Partnership work with others including Disability Association Hillingdon, Hillingdon Carers, MIND, LBH Energy Efficiency team

What is age uk doing1
What is Age UK doing?

  • Making older people aware of why their health is at risk from cold and what they can do to protect themselves:

  • Keep living area at 21C

  • Keep bedroom at 18C

  • Keep bedroom windows closed

  • Using cold weather alerts from the Met Office to let older people know when coldweather is expected

Home energy efficiency
Home energy efficiency

The cost of insulating an average home

is less than

a 4 week stay in hospital

What is age uk doing2
What is Age UK doing?

We are campaigning for warm homes as part of the Energy Bill Revolution alliance.