Mary signs up to Age UK pledge to reduce winter deaths
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has signed up to the Age UK Winter Pledge to help reduce elderly people dying from cold in the district this winter.
Last year over 24,000 people aged over 65 across the UK died unnecessarily during the winter and Mary Creagh agrees with Age UK that this figure must come down. In Yorkshire there were almost 3000 excess winter deaths in 2010/11, and with 69,000 people in Wakefield being hit with a cut to their Winter Fuel Allowance it could be a cold winter for many pensioners.
Mary said: “The UK has one of the worst levels of unnecessary winter deaths in Europe – with each day on average over 200 people succumbing to the effects of the cold weather. The number of older people who do not survive the winter here is far higher than in most European countries, including those where the weather is far colder.
“By signing the Age UK pledge, I am committing to working with the charity to help ensure all my older constituents are prepared for winter by knowing the dangers of cold weather and how they can guard against them. Wakefield Council and the PCT have an action plan for tackling fuel poverty, but with over 69,000 people in the district having their winter fuel allowance cut by the government this year, it has never been more important for older people to prepare for the cold weather.”
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK said: “We are delighted that Mary Creagh MP has joined our fight to reduce excess winter deaths. We know that behind these figures lie deep-seated social issues with over 5 million households living in fuel poverty and one in three older people living in housing that is poorly insulated.”
By signing up to the Age UK pledge Mary is committing to:
• Raising awareness of the dangers to health of cold weather and cold homes
• Working with her local Age UK to tackle the local priorities for older people
• Challenging energy providers to produce simple tariffs to make it easier for people to lower their bills.
• Promoting preventative measures that older people can take before a cold spell
• Encouraging all sectors of the local community to make tackling excess winter deaths a priority
• Ensuring that all her constituents are prepared for winter
Age UK is working in partnership with the Met Office to alert vulnerable older people when a cold snap is expected, sending out key messages on how to keep warm and well.
The pledge is part of Age UK’s annual Spread the Warmth campaign. The Charity and its local and national partners are aiming to make winter warmer for 360,000 older people by providing information, advice and practical services to help keep warm and well in the colder winter months, preventing many thousands from being left isolated and alone. These include getting warm and nutritious meals to older people, helping to keep homes warm, and giving free information and advice 365 days a year.
Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also order a free copy of ‘Winter Wrapped Up’, a guide funded by E.ON. Alternatively they can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide, get more information about Spread the Warmth and find out where their local Age UK office or shop is. There will be lots of ways to help Age UK Spread the Warmth this winter. People can make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87.
Wakefield’s plan for affordable warmth is endorsed by Mary Creagh – see page 7/8 for excess winter death information: www.wakefield.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/EA2BD411-7C2C-4382-99C1-00B594B8BE30/0/Affordable_Warmth_Action_Plan.pdf news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9644000/9644663.stm Winter fuel payments for 69,000 people in Wakefield district was cut in this year’s Autumn Statement.