23,200 more people died in England and Wales during winter 2018-19 compared to the rest of the year, according to new figures by the Office for National Statistics.
Despite figures being the lowest since the winter of 2013-14, fuel poverty charity National Energy Action urges the government to take action ahead of what is expected to be a cold winter.
Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of National Energy Action, said: “This is an annual badge of shame. Cold homes kill thousands of people each winter through respiratory and cardio-vascular diseases, influenza, and in a small number of cases, hypothermia.
“For the ‘dead of winter’, their homes were deathtraps. The figures may be down from last year, but that’s the luck of the weather, not Government action.”
21,900 of the reported excess winter deaths took place in England and 1,400 in Wales.
Three regions with the most deaths were the South East with 3,500 deaths, North West with 2,900 deaths and both the East and Yorkshire and The Humber a shared third with 2,700 deaths.
The 2018-19 figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland have not been released yet.
In 2019-19, the excess winter mortality continued to be higher in females compared with males and highest in females aged 90 years and over compared with females at younger ages.
National Energy Action claims that up to 30% of the number of excess winter deaths are likely to be attributable to the impact cold homes have on those with respiratory and cardio-vascular diseases.
They also highlight the impact the cold has on increasing trips and falls and in a small number of cases, direct hypothermia.
The charity also says the number of needless deaths is the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and many more people are suffering with poor physical and mental health with the resulting impact on health services costing the NHS between £1.4bn and £2bn every year, in England alone.
”It doesn’t have to be this way. There has never been a greater opportunity to tackle cold homes and the seasonal epidemic of ill health and early death”, Mr Scorer added.
“All major UK party manifestos have recognised that we have to improve home energy efficiency if we want to end fuel poverty and tackle the climate emergency. The next government must build on this consensus to turn warm words into warm homes. Act now and they will save thousands of lives.”
The figures were released ahead of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on Friday 29 November.