Excess winter deaths

This graph makes for pretty ugly reading if you live in Southend-on-Sea. For almost all of the last twenty years my town has had a worst record than the comparator average when it comes to excess winter deaths. Recent numbers show the gap to have narrowed, and I hope that I will be able to report at some point that Southend-on-Sea is better than average.
(Excess winter deaths (EWD) are calculated using the Office for National Statistics method which defines the winter period as December to March, and compares the number of deaths that occurred in this winter period with the average number of deaths in the preceding August to November and the following April to July.)

I asked for an explanation for our poor past record, and here is the response:

The causes of excess winter deaths are complex and interlinked with cold weather, fuel poverty, housing and health inequalities, as well as infectious diseases (such as flu and norovirus) and the extent of snow and ice. It is therefore very difficult to say that there is any one particular reason for Southend being above the average of its CIPFA comparator local authorities throughout the period being reported on.

I have been supporting Ed Miliband’s freeze that bill campaign. Until something is done about fuel poverty one can only speculate what this graph will look like after this coming winter has passed. This is why the vote on the Local Council Tax Support Scheme Annual Review last Thursday was so crucial, and why those who support the idea of making the poor poorer (and for what the administration had proposed) must be made aware that actions have consequences. We can add to the ‘heat or eat’ question ‘or council tax’.


9 Responses to Excess winter deaths

  1. Tim Childs says:

    No party really cares about the poor or Working class anymore, only at election time, and poor and Working class pensioners represent the lowest spectrum of people that are deemed useless by almost everyone and certainly all political parties. The parties generally represent Middle class people or the very wealthy and the Upper Middle class. And because most parties, all the main ones, and even the Greens, UKIP and so on tend to be filled with rather Middle class and dare I say it generally London or people South East, there concerns are limited to the Middle classes and above and on the South East of England and the affluent in general. In a real democracy where people in power really cared, would thousands of pensioners be dying every year because of the cold, and half a million people need foodbanks, and especially the fact that the UK is a very wealthy country makes this an avoidable obscenity that nobody in influence, power or the media seems overly concerned about; is that because they are all affluent and Middle class and so it just doesn’t affect them? I suspect it is.

  2. Tim Childs: Perhaps predictably, I disagree with your opening statement – I think the Labour Party cares very much about the poor and working classes. It cares, too, about the middle and upper classes – a socialist party should have broad appeal.

    Your point about pensioners is another I disagree with, if for no other reason than they have a higher propensity to vote. But, in any case, I take my ward work very seriously and try my best to speak to everyone, regardless of age, class, etc.

    You do make very valid points about winter deaths, foodbanks, and the wealth imbalance. I hope I am doing my bit to publicise the plight of the poor etc – you only have to read through this blog to see that they are recurring themes.

  3. Del Thomas says:

    This is one of the reasons we are running the winter night shelter and slam the council all you like in other areas but they are one of the most proactive i know in the area of homelessness. I know this doesnt account for all the deaths but credit where credit is due. This town and especially SHAN (Southend Homeless Action Network) is a great example of agencies working together to deal with a very tough issue.

  4. Del Thomas: Where do I “slam the council” in this piece?

  5. Del Thomas says:

    Sorry Julian, that was not aimed at you, it was a general statement aimed at anyone.

  6. What this does highlight is that we live in a borough of contrasts. I am aware of the work the churches are doing with the homeless, and I think I represent the ward the the highest incidence of homelessness.

    Another alarming statistic, which I really ought to do an updated piece on sometime, is the life expectancy variations across the borough – West Leigh residents, for instance, can expect to live seven years longer than those who reside in Milton (on average).

  7. Tim Childs says:

    Julian, the perception I have of politics and democracy in this country is one that probably many poor, Working class and unemployed might hold. I am, of course, not criticising you as an individual but in general the wealthy and the Middle class have stayed affluent or become more affluent and many poor people, even those working have got poorer because the utilities are privatised and can raise prices as and when they like, there are zero hours contracts, a criminally low minimum wage that people just cannot survive on, price rises of all kinds and a general towards heaping all the problems and the blame on the poor, through a Middle class dominated media that don’t care as long as they have their affluent careers.

  8. Tim Childs: There is nothing to stop you getting involved. Whilst no-one individually can fix all of society’s problems, doing nothing will solve none of them. I hope that I am making a difference, albeit a small one.

  9. Tim Childs says:

    I am going to volunteer for a foodbank Julian. I struggle to get a job even though I am well educated. I guess that tends to make me a little bitter. Things seem to get worse and there is a nary mention of it in the mainstream media anywhere. We have ceased to be a democracy. I would say we are now in a kind of feudal system.

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