Cold Society? Improving the UK’s strategy for coping with the cold

Cold Society Improving the UKs strategy for dealing with the cold
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Date(s) - 04/03/2013
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

British Library Conference Centre

A British Library and Strategic Society Centre public debate about excess winter deaths and the cost of cold-related illness.

As winter draws to a close, the countdown begins until the Office for National Statistics publishes its annual estimate of ‘excess winter deaths’ – usually around 25,000 pensioners each year.

These deaths, and the cost of cold-related illness to the NHS – estimated to be £1.36 billion a year in England – are widely acknowledged to be unnecessary and preventable, particularly given the outcomes achieved in countries much colder than the UK.

Four government departments deploy policies directed at the effect of cold weather on the population: DH, DECC, DCLG and – spending by far the most – DWP.

However, it is still far from clear that the UK has an effective, adequate and joined up strategy for dealing with the effects of cold.

This event therefore explored:

  • Are excess winter deaths and cold-related illness a problem of public health, low incomes, fuel poverty, poor home insulation or human behaviour?
  • Is government policy in this area effective or targeted?
  • As the biggest item of public spending in this area, what proportion of Winter Fuel Payments is spent on keeping warm? What would be the effect of scrapping Winter Fuel Payments on household fuel spending?
  • What is the scope for more joined-up policy interventions and choices?

Speakers at this event included:

  • Reg Platt, Research Fellow, Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Cormac O’Dea, Senior Research Economist, Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • James Lloyd, Director, Strategic Society Centre

View the slides below:

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