Sunday, 29 November 2009

UK: Winter related deaths reach highest ever level.

While the UK sends over £800M to India, our own senior citizens die of what the government calls “winter related diseases.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 36,700 more deaths last winter than in a comparable number of warmer months.

That meant the total of what are known as Excess Winter Deaths for England and Wales was up 12,000 on the previous year and at the highest level in a decade. The number of elderly people dying from the cold in Britain has risen by 49 per cent since last winter

The grim statistics will add to fears that the high fatality rate will be repeated this winter following a refusal by energy suppliers to cut tariffs before temperatures drop. They also leave the 'big six' companies - British Gas, Scottish and Southern Energy, RWE NPower, Eon, EDF and Scottish Power - open to criticism.

All six are enjoying huge profits after failing to pass on a sharp fall in the wholesale cost of gas and electricity to customers. Their bills went up by an average of 42 per cent or £381 last year, putting a strain on the budgets of pensioners and others.

Since then, wholesale prices have fallen by more than 50 per cent; however bills have been reduced by only 4 per cent, around £50 a year. Today, official customer watchdog Consumer Focus is calling on the Government to order a Competition Commission inquiry into the failure to pass on lower wholesale costs.

It says there is scope to cut energy bills by at least £62 a year immediately, with further reductions possible. charities argue high bills contributed to the fatality rate. Jenny Saunders, of National Energy Action, said: 'Pensioners are often anxious to avoid debt and turn their heating down or even off, often unaware that they are putting their health in danger.

'We have one of the highest excess winter death rates in Europe, higher than many of our colder Scandinavian neighbours.' The Excess Winter Deaths total is a record of how many more deaths there are during winter months compared with the non-winter months.

These extra deaths, the majority among pensioners, are due mostly to the effects of the cold which aggravates underlying health problems and increases the likelihood of falls. Robert Hammond of Consumer Focus said: 'Millions of people are paying over the odds to heat their homes this winter, despite huge falls in the wholesale price of gas.

'A truly competitive market would ensure that when energy companies pay less to supply energy, customers pay less.' The problems for customers contrast with the profits of suppliers.

British Gas is set for a 50 per cent rise in annual profits to more than £500million and Scottish and Southern Energy's profits increased 36 per cent for the past six months.

Christine McGourty of Energy UK, which represents the suppliers, said: 'Britain's energy suppliers spent £157million between 2008/09 to help people struggling with their bills.' She rejected accusations of profiteering, saying Britain's energy market was one of the world's most competitive.

So tell me why oil tankers are moored off the UK coast waiting for pump prices to increase ‘before’ they dock is that not profiteering? I wish the drivers and fuel users of the UK would boycott all garages for a day over their holding us to ransom.

It is now time for Nationalists to keep an eye on any local elderly people living in their area especially during bad weather.

Tom Linden.

Pip pip

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