Cold killed estimated 100 people in Plymouth last year
COLD weather killed an estimated 100 people in Plymouth last year.
Nationally about 27,000 people die due to the cold, according to Government figures.
Most are older people, especially women, and those with underlying health problems; but they would not have died anyway at that time.
Many more people need treatment in winter for cold weather-related conditions. The estimated annual cost to the NHS of treating winter-related disease due to cold private housing is over £850 million.
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The Government defines a healthy living environment as 21C in living areas and 18C in other rooms. Fuel-poor households can't afford to heat their home to this standard.
Fuel poverty can cause or worsen health problems including bronchitis, heart attacks and accidents.
Temperatures lower than 12C (54F) cause blood pressure to rise in the elderly, increasing the risk of heart attack.
A drop in body temperature causes the blood to thicken making circulation more difficult and contributing to heart disease and strokes.
Winter Fuel Payment goes to everybody who was born on or before July 5, 1951. The amount ranges from £100 to £300, is tax-free and does not affect benefits.
The payment is made automatically if you get the state pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Child Benefit).
If you qualify but don't get paid automatically, make a claim by calling 0845 9151515 or going online to www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment
If you don't need it, give your payment to someone who does
PENSIONERS who can cope without their Winter Fuel Payment are being urged to give the money to help those who struggle to keep warm in an appeal launched today.
The Herald is teaming up with Age UK Plymouth to fight fuel poverty among the city's elderly.
Last year about 100 people in Plymouth died because of the cold.
Many more times that number suffer ill health because they can't afford to keep warm. That puts a strain on the NHS.
But there are some more fortunate retired people who may not need the automatic Government entitlement of up to £300, which they will receive in the next few weeks.
Last year some generous people gave some or all of their allowance to Age UK Plymouth for the charity to use to help those in need.
"We hope many more people will do the same this year," said Lynne Hodgson fundraising manager for the city charity.
"The Winter Fuel Payment is an automatic benefit and some older people do not need that additional help because they are financially secure.
"If they can afford to give part or all of it to us in Plymouth we can use it to help some of the 1,000 older people we help each week.
"In the Plymouth area there is an increasing number of elderly people. There is more poverty here partly because we have more older people than the national average."
The excess deaths were not cases of people sitting and freezing to death.
"The cold exacerbates other conditions leading to strokes and heart attacks," said Mrs Hodgson.
"Some older people have to make the choice 'eat or heat'. They might decide to have the heat and not eat properly which leads to other problems."
In previous years Age UK Plymouth crisis help has included direct financial aid and food parcels.
The appeal coincides with the 70th anniversary of what was Plymouth Age Concern.
Financial help from anybody who is not old enough to receive the Winter Fuel Payment is also welcomed.
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Donations can be made by post to: Age UK Plymouth, William and Patricia Venton Centre, Astor Drive, Mount Gould, PL4 9RD. They can also be made in person at any of Age UK Plymouth's centres: Elspeth Sitters House, Hoegate Street, The Barbican; William Venton Centre at the top of the Broadway Car Park in Plymstock; and the William and Patricia Venton Centre, Mount Gould.