December 24, 2021 9.46 am This story is over 22 months old

Winter death and cold home crisis facing Lincolnshire

Over 70,000 households in the county are ‘fuel poor’

Lincolnshire has seen 410 excess deaths between 2019 and 2020 – excluding those related to COVID-19.

The new figures, published in the Excess Winter Mortality report from the Office for National Statistics, come as calls intensify for the government to tackle the cold home crisis.

Excess winter deaths are the difference between the number of deaths recorded in the cold months (December to March) compared with the average number of deaths in the warmer months.

In Lincolnshire, around 70,700 households are classed as fuel poor, which means disposable income after energy costs puts them below the poverty line and their home has an energy efficiency (EPC) rating of band D or below.

OFTEC, a trade association in the off-gas grid heating sector, is concerned many of these preventable deaths could be caused by people living in cold homes, particularly in rural areas where properties are typically older, less energy efficient and harder to keep warm.

Living in cold temperatures can lead to high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, and Public Health England says 22% of excess deaths during winter are directly linked to cold homes.

Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC, said: “As we face another winter in the midst of a global pandemic, our attention is rightly placed on protecting as many people as possible from infection. We must not forget, however, that even without the impact of the coronavirus, thousands of people continue to die in avoidable circumstances because they live in a cold home.

“Experts believe that people who are older, live with long term health conditions or have lower average income are most at risk of winter illness or mortality.

“We have serious concerns that another cold winter, coupled with rising living costs and the ongoing risk posed by coronavirus, could make this situation much worse, as more households face a stark choice between heating and eating.”

“Unfortunately, we know that many of those in Lincolnshire who are least able to afford their heating costs live in some of the most poorly insulated properties, making them much harder to heat and keep warm.

“The government needs to take action and provide more support for fuel poor households to help tackle the excess winter death crisis we are facing.”