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LGA - Households urged by councils to show extra vigilance as big freeze bites

Households are being urged by councils to show extra vigilance and ensure vulnerable friends, neighbours and relatives are safe as the big freeze bites.

With forecasters predicting severe weather – temperatures are expected to plummet again this weekend – the Local Government Association, which speaks for councils in England and Wales, is urging people to be watchful. 

Councils are working hard to make sure people are still getting the care they need and deserve. This has included putting extra social workers in hospitals and working seven days a week alongside health colleagues to work with patients and their families to discharge them more quickly into the community.

Latest government figures show deaths last winter were the highest since the turn of the century. There were almost 44,000 excess winter deaths. Illnesses such as influenza and pneumonia were the underlying causes of death in many cases.

Meanwhile, councils have stockpiled 1.2 million tonnes of salt to prepare for winter and gritters will be out treating thousands of miles of roads whenever overnight temperatures drop below zero in the coming days.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, LGA Community Wellbeing spokesperson, said:

"Last year almost 44,000 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales. Most are aged over 75, and their deaths could have been avoided with better preparation for cold weather.

"As the freeze sets in we need everyone in our communities to be on the look-out for signs that something might be wrong. Whether it be milk bottles left outside, newspapers stuck in the letterbox or curtains drawn all day, any sort of unusual activity could be a sign that something is wrong and that someone is in need of help.

"We are well prepared for the cold with 1.2 million tonnes of salt stockpiled and a fleet of state-of-the-art gritters ready to be deployed. As well as gritting our roads and clearing snow, councils are out there working extra hard and pulling out all the stops to ensure vital help and support is provided to the needy and vulnerable."

Notes to editors

  1. Cold Weather Plan 2015
    www.gov.uk/government/publications/cold-weather-plan-cwp-for-england

  2. The LGA's Research and Information team conducted an online survey of all highways authorities in England and Wales who carry out winter weather gritting activities (all councils except districts). Findings are from fieldwork which took place between 12 October and 13 November 2015 with a response rate of 39 per cent (67 councils).

  3. The LGA has an online resource called 'Winter watch' which aims to keep member councils, the public and the media abreast of the winter-related work going on in villages, towns and cities across the country. It contains a Q&A on winter issues, services and gritting, the latest LGA press releases, local case studies and other documents related to winter resilience. It can also act as a forum for people to share their views and ideas and is regularly updated.

  4. Highways authorities (county, unitary, metropolitan and London borough councils) are responsible for nine out of every 10 miles of road – about 200,000 miles in England and Wales. The Highways Agency covers motorways and major A roads, while Transport for London covers arterial trunk roads in London.

  5. Winter Weather report 2015. - See more at: www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/media-releases/-/journal_content/56/10180/7578862/NEWS#sthash.83DncExZ.dpuf

Background

  • An estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths occurred in England and Wales in 2014/15; the highest number since 1999/00, with 27 PER more people dying in the winter months compared with the non-winter months.

  • The majority of deaths occurred among people aged 75 and over; there were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group in 2014/15, compared with 7,700 in people aged under 75.

  • There were more excess winter deaths in females than in males in 2014/15, as in previous years. Male excess winter deaths increased from 7,210 to 18,400, and female deaths from 10,250 to 25,500 between 2013/14 and 2014/15.

  • Respiratory diseases were the underlying cause of death in more than a third of all excess winter deaths in 2014/15.

  • The excess winter mortality index was highest in the South West in 2014/15 and joint lowest in Yorkshire and The Humber, and Wales.
    www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/subnational-health2/excess-winter-mortality-in-england-and-wales/2014-15--provisional--and-2013-14--final-/stb-ewm.html

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