SCOTLAND

Excess winter deaths

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • Each year around 2,000 more people aged 65 and over die in winter months than in other months.  In some years (e.g. 2008/09), the figure is much higher.
  • Using the definition of fuel poverty adopted by the Scottish Government in 2002, around a quarter of pensioner households are classified as being in fuel poverty.
  • This proportion varies substantially by level of household income, with two-fifths of households with an income of less than £200 per week being in fuel poverty compared to less than one in twenty of households with a higher level of income.
  • Within low-income households, the proportion is much greater for owner occupiers and private renters than it is for those in social housing: more than half compared to a fifth.
  • The proportion of energy inefficient homes is twice as high in owner occupied homes as in social housing: 8% compared to 4% using a ‘Standard Assessment Procedure’ (SAP) rating of less than 30 as the threshold of inefficiency.
  • Most pensioners who say that their homes are sometimes cold say that this is for reasons other than cost.

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows excess winter deaths each year in the 65 and above age group.

‘Excess winter deaths’ is defined as the difference between the number of deaths which occurred in winter (December to March) and the average number of deaths during the preceding four months (August to November) and the subsequent four months (April to July).  The data source is the General Registrar Office.

The second graph shows the proportion of retired people who are classified as living in fuel poverty, with the data separated out by housing tenure and by level of household income.  The definition of fuel poverty is that adopted by the Scottish Government in 2002.

The third graph shows the proportion of retired people who live in homes with a ‘Standard Assessment Procedure’ (SAP) rating of less than 30, with the data separated out by housing tenure and by level of household income.  SAP ratings are a measure of energy efficiency (the higher the SAP rating, the better) ranging from 1 to 100.

The fourth graph shows the proportion of retired people who say that their homes are not always warm, with the data separated out by housing tenure and reason.  The reasons have been grouped into two categories, those which include costs and those which do not.

The data source for the second, third and fourth graphs is the 2002 Scottish House Condition Survey (the dataset for which is no longer publicly available), no more recent data being available.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  Whilst the data sources used here are reliable ones, there is no data providing evidence of a direct causal relationship between winter deaths and energy inefficient housing.