Belfast Telegraph

Excess winter deaths tally in Northern Ireland has more than doubled since 2015

NI has the highest level of fuel poverty in the UK, lobbyists have said.

Michael Monaghan, from The Pensioners’ Parliament, has raised concern about winter challenges facing the elderly
Michael Monaghan, from The Pensioners’ Parliament, has raised concern about winter challenges facing the elderly

The number of excess winter deaths in Northern Ireland has more than doubled since 2015.

The rise was attributed to people living in cold and damp houses which they are unable to heat, lobbyists for the elderly said.

Age Sector Platform said some older people should receive a discount on their electricity bills.

A spokesman said: “One avoidable death is too many.

“It is time to stand up for the most vulnerable people in society.”

The shocking figures on excess winter deaths highlight the clear need for the Department for Communities to start working on a new fuel poverty strategy Age Sector Platform

Excess winter deaths describe the difference between the number of people who died during the winter months compared with the number across the summer season.

The Age Sector Platform spokesman added: “At our recent Pensioners Parliament, the call was made, in the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly, for the Secretary of State to take urgent action in this matter.”

Recent information, published by National Energy Action (NEA), said there has been a 130% increase in excess winter deaths in Northern Ireland since 2015/16.

In 2015/16 there were 640 and in 2017/18 there were 1,500.

Northern Ireland has the highest level of fuel poverty in the UK, lobbyists have said.

Age Sector Platform renewed its demand for the country to be included in the Warm Home Discount scheme.

The scheme enables low income households, including older people in receipt of Pension Credit, to be eligible for a discount of £140 off their annual electricity bill.

It said Northern Ireland was the only part of the UK not included in the scheme.

A spokesperson for Age Sector Platform said: “The shocking figures on excess winter deaths highlight the clear need for the Department for Communities to start working on a new fuel poverty strategy, which was promised in the 2016 Programme for Government.”

A Department for Communities spokesperson said: “A new fuel poverty strategy is currently under development, which will review the existing strategy and consider new actions on fuel poverty.

“Engagement with a wide range of stakeholders will be carried out.”

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