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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 06:50 GMT
Charity warning over winter deaths
Many pensioners struggle to stay warm in winter
Hundreds of elderly people could die from cold this winter unless more is done to combat fuel poverty, a charity has warned.

Help the Aged fears a repeat of last winter, when 2,510 people died from cold-related illnesses in Scotland.

The figure was almost 700 more than the number of older people who died the previous winter (1,842) and the charity fears the death toll could keep rising.

It is almost 10 times the number of people -274 - who died in road accidents in Scotland last year.

The charity blames the winter deaths among older people on fuel poverty, which is defined as having to spend more than 10% of your income heating your home.

Help the Aged's Liz Duncan said: "The fact that last winter's figures were up by almost 700 from the previous year is unacceptable.

"Although the Scottish Executive's central heating initiative is making inroads, more focus to this work is vital if we are to see an improvement.

"If not, we will continue to see, repeated every year, the same story of winter deaths, uncountable illness and misery."


The Scottish Executive said it was committed to eradicating fuel poverty in Scotland by 2016.

A spokesman said: "We have introduced the central heating programme for pensioners and public sector tenants who are without central heating.

"And there's the Warm Deal programme which provides home insulation grants for pensioners. Fuel poverty in Scotland has more than halved since 1996.

"These initiatives will continue to significantly improve the lives of many older people in Scotland."

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