Health fears as thousands struggle to heat homes

Thousands of people who can’t afford to adequately heat their homes in South Tyneside are suffering from heart or breathing issues, new estimates suggest.

Cold homes health fears.
Cold homes health fears.

New estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest there were around 31,315 people in the area ‘living in poverty’ in March last year – 5,435 (17%) of whom had a cardiovascular or respiratory condition.

The data also suggests that, of 10.8 million people deemed to be living in poverty in England, 1.3 million were estimated to be suffering from heart or breathing issues.

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Although the research did not find that rates of such conditions were higher for those in poverty than for the general population, the ONS said that as people in poverty are more exposed to the cold, they are more likely to be hospitalised or die as a result of them.

The ONS used various sources to come up with the figures, including data from the 2021 census and information on health conditions collected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Institute of Health Equity director, Sir Michael Marmot, said: “Warm homes, nutritious food and a stable job are vital building blocks for health.

“If we are constantly worrying about making ends meet it puts a strain on our bodies, resulting in increased stress, with effects on the heart and blood vessels and a disordered immune system.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have prioritised health and social care in the Autumn Statement with a further £8bn, on top of previous record funding, to ensure people can access high quality care as soon as possible.”