People in Bedfordshire have been dying in homes that they cannot afford to heat.
That’s the conclusion reached by analysis of statistics which reveal that there were there were 340 ‘excess’ winter deaths in the county during 2016/17.
Excess winter deaths are defined as the difference between the number of deaths in the winter compared with the previous three months and the following.
Provisional statistics for last winter (2017/18) also show a significant rise in the number of excess winter deaths across the region with 5,600 recorded in the East of England.
Overall in the UK there has been an increase of 45 per cent, the highest since 1975.
An important contributing factor to these deaths is the high number of people living in homes they can’t afford to adequately heat, particularly in rural parts of the country where properties tend to be older, poorly insulated and therefore harder to keep warm.
OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, is sharing a free information guide with advice on keeping the house warm.
> Heating your main room to a least 21C and other regularly used rooms to at least 18C
> Monitoring and adjusting timers on your heating controls as the weather changes – make sure you aren’t wasting money on heating when you are not in
> Turning off radiators in rooms you are not using
Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC said: “The latest government statistics reveal the hidden crisis facing Bedfordshire and it is deeply concerning that even in this day and age, the number of winter deaths continues to rise. For far too long this issue has not been given the attention it deserves and too many people are struggling on in silence.
“Many of us take keeping our houses warm for granted but for a large number of households it is a constant source of anxiety. It is important everyone is aware of the support available which is why we are sharing our winter guide.”
For more information and to download the free booklet, visit www.oftec.org