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Fuel Poverty

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has commissioned on how many (a) women aged 60 and over and (b) men aged 65 and over, in each year since 1997, have died due to the effects of fuel poverty; and if he will make a statement. [113404]

Causes of death in older people are complex and multi-factorial. It is not possible to isolate the possible contributory role of fuel poverty from other potential contributory factors in the deaths of older people. However, links have been established between damp, cold housing and deaths and the physiological effects of cold and increased ill health are well documented. It is recognised that older people are particularly vulnerable but given the lack of scientific evidence and the complexity of other possible contributory factors, it is not possible to provide accurate figures relating to deaths due to fuel poverty.The Department of Health, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are supporting a two-year research project into the impact of fuel poverty interventions on health. The project is evaluating the impact of Warm Front initiatives on mental and physical health and the risk of cold-related death. It is also identifying the potential of energy efficient measures to improve the health and quality of life of householders and assessing the impact of fuel poverty interventions on the use of health care services. A report is expected later this year.