Every year the Office for National Statistics release figures showing how many elderly and vulnerable people have died due to the cold during the winter months. Over the course of winter in 2015 a staggering 24,300 people died from mostly preventable causes. Over the last 5 years more than 152,000 of the most vulnerable people up and down the country have died between November and March. That’s like losing the combined population of both the Barnsley Central and Barnsley East constituencies. In a modern Britain that’s completely unacceptable.
Since being elected as MP for Barnsley Central in 2011, I have been urging the Government to take action on this issue. The shocking statistics published annually by the ONS demonstrate that the Government urgently needs to come up with a credible, ambitious, cross-government strategy that helps people stay safe over winter.
February 2012: I asked the Prime Minister about excess winter deaths at PMQs. Read my question and the Prime Minister's response here.
January 2013: I wrote for Age UK’s blog. You can read my article here.
January 2016: See my questions to the Prime Minister on this issue; holding him to account over the appalling number of excess winter deaths and asking him why his Government isn't doing more to prevent these unavoidable deaths every year.
February 2016: I asked the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate change what she was doing to ensure households met the minimum energy efficiency standards, in order to prevent excess winter deaths. Read her response here.
April 2016: Mumsnet kindly invited me to hold a webchat to discuss excess winter deaths.
June 2016: I lead an Adjournment Debate in parliament calling for a national strategy to prevent excess winter deaths. Read my debate here.
June 2016: I wrote for the Yorkshire Post about what we can do to reduce the unacceptable levels of excess winter deaths seen in this country. Read my article here.
June 2016: Catch up with my webchat on Gransnet.
October 2016: I asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what he was doing to co-ordinate activity between different Government Departments in order to minimise excess cold weather deaths. Read his response here.
November 2016: I asked the Secretary of State for Health to take responsibility and act to reduce the number of excess winter deaths. Read more here. In light of the most recent figures, I ask the Leader of the House for a debate on the crisis.
Unless the Government takes urgent action, people will continue to lose their lives in this country every winter due to the cold. All too many of these deaths are preventable; better heating, health and housing are the key to reducing excess winter deaths, and they are not difficult to achieve. How a society cares for the elderly and most vulnerable is an important yardstick by which we should be judged. I will continue my campaign until the Government takes the action needed to end this quiet crisis.