Shocking figures of winter deaths in district

Fuel Poverty
Fuel Poverty

Harrowing statistics show that 90 people have died of cold in the district in what has been called “Harrogate’s hidden problem”.

The figures, from the Office of National Statistics, show that as many people died here in the big freeze two years ago as in the whole of Rotherham - a town with 100,000 more people.

The data, revealed in an Excess Winter Deaths (EWD) investigation, has been branded “shocking” by the district’s Age UK charity which has launched a campaign to combat it.

“It’s a hidden problem in Harrogate,” said Clair Chadwick, of Age UK North Yorkshire. “There’s a misplaced assumption that we have this wealthy older generation.

“But what we have is a whole generation of people who are asset rich but cash poor. People who live in lovely homes, but who can’t afford to pay their heating bills.”

The winter deaths survey, calculating how many more people died in winter than in summer, found that women and those over the age of 75 were most likely to be at risk.

The highest number of deaths was in February, it said, and likely linked to influenza.

In North Yorkshire, the highest number of deaths after York, at 120, was in Harrogate.

“There’s this assumption about Harrogate, that people are wealthy and don’t need help,” said Miss Chadwick. “But it’s misplaced. We get high levels of isolation and loneliness, whether you live in a rural area or central Harrogate.

“The bus stop might be only down the road, but it’s no use if you can’t get to it.”

The EWD survey linked a cold house to higher mortality, adding that most of the deaths were from strokes, heart and respiratory diseases.

The Government has given North Yorkshire County Council a grant of £148,000 to tackle the problem, and Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones has produced a booklet to help people save money on their fuel bills.

For advice and information through the Age UK Winter Warmth campaign, call 01423 502253.