Black balloon release highlights 200 winter deaths every day among Britain’s pensioners
Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation, the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) will highlight the scale of winter deaths among the country’s older population with a symbolic black balloon release and demonstration at 11.30am, George V statue, Old Palace Yard, Westminster, opposite the House of Lords.
The Office for National Statistics figures for December 2015 to March 2016 show 24,300 people died of cold related illnesses, equivalent to over 202 a day. Those affected the most were older women, who make up 53% of all winter deaths.
Last year, there were 43,900 winter deaths between December 2014 and March 2015 – the highest for 15 years. The ONS believes the change has been due to the absence of a flu strain that affected older people more than other age groups.
Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “The fact that flu hasn’t killed off tens of thousands of Britain’s pensioners only goes to show that issue such as poorly insulated housing, low incomes and rising fuel bills are to blame. Successive governments have simply ignored the problem of winter deaths amongst the older population and seem to have a policy of crossing their fingers and hoping things will improve. Government needs to meet the legally binding fuel poverty target on insulating homes, end higher bills for those on prepayment meters and those who cannot pay online, raise the winter fuel allowance and tackle the excessive profits of the big six energy companies.”