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News Britain Is Freezing To Death


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The winter death toll is set to rise steeply as official figures show that nine elderly people died every hour because of cold-related illnesses last year. The number of deaths linked to cold over the four months of last ­winter reached nearly 28,000.

I suppose they calculate this by noting the excess number of deaths in the cold months over those in the warmer months.

It's true, no doubt, but I think there is an interesting historical reflection to be made.

Respiratory viruses, bronchitis and pneumonia are commoner in the cold months. These can prove fatal to the frail elderly. I imagine they account for most of the excess winter deaths.

BUT remember that it was not long ago that pneumonia was called the "old man's friend": The frail elderly people susceptible to death from respiratory infection will typically have other underlying conditions such as cancer and heart failure; cold-related respiratory infection used to be seen as a way of dying that is shorter and less symptomatically unpleasant than dying from, say, cancer or heart failure.

I don't claim to know who is right and who is wrong. I just know that our society seems to assume that all death must be a tragedy; former societies have considered that some deaths might be preferable to others, and that cold-related respiratory infection is one of the better deaths available.

Edit 1: and of course the fact that somebody dies of a cold-related illness does not mean that they were cold. There are simply more people with a cold about in winter who can pass it on to an elderly person, no matter how warm and comfortable that person's house...

Edit 2: Realising I don't come across well here: If old people are cold, that is bad. The extent to which they are dying of cold-related illnesses, however, does not tell us whether they are cold - see edit 1 -, and may or may not be bad, depending on the situation.

Edited by Selling up
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I notice the communists can't come up with a viable 'real world' reason why we should all pay more tax to meet whatever energy bills are run up by people over a certain age. They just think we should and anyone who thinks otherwise is a "pr!ck".

"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

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Agree with you 100%.

I don't have much sympathy for people who insist on holding on to what is a family house, letting it going to rack and ruin. They'll always say, "but I raised my family here" or "it has such memories that I can't bare to sell", but all they are really doing is denying someone else that opportunity.

I think they would be much better selling a large old house with poor insulation and moving locally into a smaller warmer unit that would meet their needs in a far better way, or closer to their children. They would then if lucky have some spare money to spend bringing them better comfort in their old age.....but older people are on the whole a stickler for change, some of them fear it with a passion....have you also noticed sometimes their children do not encourage them to move for their parents better well-being for fear that their inheritance will be diluted and the money spent..... ;)

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maybe they should be able to trade their bus passes in for an equivalent amount of cash, and use that for heating instead?

seems strange that the state can provide the elderly with free bus travel and yet the most basic need - shelter - is not met because we are so damned poor

typical socialism

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The boomer generation is also the first which, as a general rule, is likely overall to have enjoyed a higher material standard of living than their children will. Those children simply don't have the time or money to care for elderly relatives in the way that previous generations did and, with the exception of two blips in the late '40s and mid '70s, are paying more tax overall as a proportion of their income than at any point since records began. Many of today's pensioners have much higher incomes than those of previous generations - so why can't they afford to heat their homes in the winter, for frig's sake?! I can't help wondering if some have been caught in the same trap as younger generations, i.e. fifteen years of mild winters have persuaded them that there is no need to plan for the contingency of a hard one. I don't know what the answer to this is. I don't begrudge my taxes going to subsidise the heating for someone who worked all their life on a relatively low income, brought up kids without much in the way of social security support, was not realistically able to save and is now not that well off on the state pension. But I sure as hell do resent my tax going to pay the heating bills of someone who was taking foreign holidays and buying new cars up until the point they retired and is now living to regret it.

....any saving they did make has been eroded by inflation.....the home they bought to house their family, may be the only asset they have left.......when people were earning £25 per week £2.50 of saving is 10% of that income....what may I ask, would that buy today even taking compound interest into consideration?....today many are far richer but they are saving zilch, many are now spending and borrowing more than they are earning......the future is looking very bright for the youngsters today...not....but it is not the fault of our old people that worked hard all their lives bringing up their kids and doing only what they thought best. ;)

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Are you saying that we should flatten the millions of Edwardian and Victorian homes....

That is a bit excessive.

However, what is needed is a serious effort to improve energy efficiency, including more intuitive heating system design. For example, when visiting my grandparents over winter a number of years ago - they had no idea how to control the heating system, except for the on-off switch. They had only an inkling of how to control the temperature, and certainly no idea how to only heat one room. We even had issues where they came to visit for a week over Christmas, and they couldn't restart the heating, because they had turned off the gas at the meter - it required an engineer to reprime the gas and relight the pilot, because the controls for the back boiler were concealed behind a wall panel and nobody, myself included, had any idea how to find them.

The problem is that a lot of these old houses are drafty and cold by design. The idea was that people would sit around an open fire - as this would be the only warm spot in the house. The rest of the house was cold - and has always been such. Certainly when visiting friends in their old Edwardian houses the bedrooms got so cold, that you could scrape the ice off the inside of the windows.

Essentially an enforced programme of boosting energy efficiency is badly needed, especially as we can expect energy prices to rise. Replacing drafty single-glazed sash windows, cavity wall insulation, installing more efficient heating systems, loft insulation, blocking up open fireplaces, etc. Some of these are cheaper and more effective than others - but certainly, the best have payback times in the order of 2-3 years, with others up to about 8 years. Of course, you'll never get an old house up to a modern standard with cavity insulated walls, insulated drywall panels, etc. but you can go a long way. Personally, I would abolish the Winter fuel payment and provide a grant of 2x the amount for energy efficiency works to be performed by the homeowner. This would ensure a rapid upgrade of energy efficiency of the housing stock owned by the most vulnerable population. Yes, the disadvantage is that it potentially fattens landlords - but at least you get something for the money that stays in the country, instead of pissing money every year at the energy companies and the foreign fuel suppliers.

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maybe they should be able to trade their bus passes in for an equivalent amount of cash, and use that for heating instead?

seems strange that the state can provide the elderly with free bus travel and yet the most basic need - shelter - is not met because we are so damned poor

typical socialism

Really? Lloyds, RBS and British Gas are socialist organisations? Sneaky blighters.

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Old people live in big houses can't afford the bills in such a big house. Young people live in small houses can't afford to trade up as all the old poeple are taking up all the big houses.

Edited by Si1
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My own parents are considering moving to somewhere smaller, nearer shops so they will be able to manage when they get infirm.

I know the move to having neighbours on more than one side will probably drive my dad to an early grave though. They are aware they can't live the life they have now when my mum finishes work so are going to make adjustments.

Is it unreasonable of people to downsize and take stock of their own surroundings?

How many old people live in 3 bedroom houses but never go upstairs because it's a long walk. How many old people die of the cold with a huge expensive house as a millstone around their neck? How many old people die with money in the bank they're saving for their grandkids?

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Most people need tuition in how to use their heating system. Even the most basic modern central heating system which has a thermostat, time control and thermostastic radiator valves seems to be too complicated for most.

I would have thought that the cost of energy would have instilled a desire to be energy aware but seems not. Maybe the smart meter introduction would help. How many other things in life does a person comsume without knowing the real cost?

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My own parents are considering moving to somewhere smaller, nearer shops so they will be able to manage when they get infirm.

My grandparents did this in the early 1990s shortly after the last one of them retired. They were living in a large manor house type place (5-6 bedrooms) in the middle of the countryside around the Essex-Suffolk border. Very picturesque, nothing but fields around them and the nearest building was half a mile away. But the downsides were that the road that linked them with the nearest 'A' road and village was little more than a farm track that became a skating rink in winters such as this one, no mains gas, etc. etc. They moved to the nearest market town - much smaller house but terraced and in the high street, within walking distance of shops, their GP and so on and so forth.

How many old people live in 3 bedroom houses but never go upstairs because it's a long walk. How many old people die of the cold with a huge expensive house as a millstone around their neck? How many old people die with money in the bank they're saving for their grandkids?

This was the situation my grandmother on the other side of the family was in. When she passed away her house eventually had to be sold at less than half what others in that road were going for (in 2004). After two decades of it being heated so little, it was so riven with damp that a survey revealed that it needed £110k of renovations done on it. Again, being a terrace, knocking it down and starting again was not an option. All the roof tiles and beams, all the floorboards, all the wiring and much else besides had to be replaced. If it weren't for the fact that it was in a fashionable part of north London and the sale took place in the middle of the boom, I suspect that my father and his sister would have had real problems selling it at all.

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri
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Most people need tuition in how to use their heating system. Even the most basic modern central heating system which has a thermostat, time control and thermostastic radiator valves seems to be too complicated for most.

I would have thought that the cost of energy would have instilled a desire to be energy aware but seems not. Maybe the smart meter introduction would help. How many other things in life does a person comsume without knowing the real cost?

The energy companies are making it as difficult as possible to understand the tariffs they have available and the cost of each one in cash terms...the bills are very confusing therms, wattage etc...they have their reasons for this, it is for their benefit not the consumers...bit like insurance, they hope you keep paying extra when something cheaper is available if only you knew it existed.....to get the best deal you have to jump through hoops and over hurdles...many of our old people don't have computers and they are too proud to ask.

This government need to put pressure on these companies to make our energy bills more transparent, clear and fair for all...we all have a right to be told what is available and ask for it..... ;)

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Modern central heating thermostat controls are far too complicated for the average person and even young people let alone the elderly who might have problems with eyesight and basic mobility. I imagine even technically trained people have to read the manual a few times. Mind you, ever read their modern manuals :rolleyes: .

Thermostat controls a few years ago you just had to turn a dial to the required temperature (no manual required) now they might have high-definition full-color display but try to get the temperature you want. They seem to think that all bells and whistles compensates for simplicity and ease. It doesn't.

Nowadays you have "interview-based programming" :rolleyes: . Why not just turn the dial, full stop.

There seems little thought given to their practicality and functionality these days and it must result in inefficiency and waste of energy. Apart from the controls themselves being more expensive but I suppose it keeps people in "design" and manufacture employment.

Modern digital electric meters are just as bad with the buttons to press to get a reading and with displays using off white against grey (terrible contrast). You used to be able to just take the meter reading from a clear display - no buttons.

Whoever designs these things these days needs the proverbial kick up the proverbial.

Edited by billybong
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The energy companies are making it as difficult as possible to understand the tariffs they have available and the cost of each one in cash terms...the bills are very confusing therms, wattage etc...they have their reasons for this, it is for their benefit not the consumers...bit like insurance, they hope you keep paying extra when something cheaper is available if only you knew it existed.....to get the best deal you have to jump through hoops and over hurdles...many of our old people don't have computers and they are too proud to ask.

This government need to put pressure on these companies to make our energy bills more transparent, clear and fair for all...we all have a right to be told what is available and ask for it..... ;)

they also sens round ass*hole sales people to your house to fleece you for a new contract, so I suspect pensioners get ripped off by this

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It could be argued, and please note I'm not arguing this (as such), but it could be argued that people who have "worked all their life" and find themselves in poverty in retirement have't done very well for themselves. You might question their productivity and achievement while they were "working all their lives". Just because they've reached a certain age doesn't mean they're suddently entitled to our admiration and self-sacrifice for their benefit. That might be considered yet another tax from the productive to the (in some cases) feckless underachievers. Might it not?

Didn't Thatcher say "anyone still riding the bus by 30 has failed in life"?

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My Great Aunt, 89, has stacks of cash in the bank - still frets at the cost of heating her home, waits until the co-op has reduced things verfore she buys them - she would probably rather go cold! Still - that is probably why she has stacks of cash...

Money came a lot easier to the majority of today's 40-50 yr olds than it ever did to the majority of the current crop of 75+ yr olds who had to 'earn' their money and saved hard for a rainy day, which in their mentality could still come, hence their reluctance to spend, especially as their ability to earn has gone.

In contrast, very many people in recent time were just given their money irrespective of their effort, either through JSA, civil service or by mewing their property. This has brought a different attitude to how money is spent: easy come, easy go a..nd a lack of understandig as to why pensioners have cash they don't spend.

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I dunno, but whoever said it was 100% correct. Id say 22 though.

That's just such total crap! I have a car or could easily afford to take cabs everywhere if I wanted to but I like to ride on buses. What's with this bus prejudice, it doesn't make any sense at all?

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My grandad is 88, lives alone, on state pension with little savings.

His house is like a sauna year round.

What are these other pensioners spending their money on?

I think the story has been over egged slightly (have to sell papers.. right? ;) )

There are quite a few old people who are very frugal and don't want to waste anything or put the heating on out of principle. They would rather put a jumper on or go out for a walk.

The way to sort them out would be, instead of a lump sum of cash, to give them a subsidised rate on their gas/electricity. This would be hugely expensive for the rest of us to shell out for though.. but probably not much more than the £200 odd each they are already getting anyway.

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  • 433 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
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      • up 5%



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