HC Deb 30 November 1984 vol 68 cc625-6W
Mr. Parry

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people died of hypothermia (a) on Merseyside and (b) in Liverpool in each of the past five years to the latest date.

Mr. John Patten

The table shows the number of deaths with mention of hypothermia, among residents of Merseyside metropolitan county and Liverpool metropolitan county districts, in 1979 to 1984.

Numbers of deaths with mention of hypothermia in Merseyside Metropolitan County and Liverpool Metropolitan County District
Year Merseyside Liverpool
1979 43 27
1980 20 14
1981 22 12
1982 42 26
1983 20 11
1984* 13 5
* The figures for 1984 are for January to August only.

Mr. Parry

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he is satisfied with the liaison between staff in local offices of his Department, local authority social service departments and voluntary agencies concerning the surveillance of recipients of benefit considered to be at risk from hypothermia; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if he will issue guidelines to all local offices of his Department concerning the surveillance of benefit recipients considered at risk from hypothermia in the current winter;

(3) what guidelines he issues to local offices concerning supplementary benefit payments in connection with fuel bills on the danger to persons who may be at risk from hypothermia following the disconnections of electricity supplies.

Mr. Whitney

Guidance on the payment of heating additions to people receiving supplementary benefit is in paragraphs 4021–4362 of the S Manual, a copy of which is in the Library. In April 1982 the Department and the fuel industries issued a joint statement of intent to help protect supplementary benefit recipients from having their fuel supplies disconnected. This statement and instructions to local office staff are in paragraphs 9209, 9236 and Appendix 9 of the S Manual. In addition, visiting officers are instructed to contact the local authority social sendees department, voluntary welfare organisations, or others as appropriate if it appears that a claimant may be in danger of hypothermia.

We are satisfied with the existing instructions and with the liaison between our local office staff and other agencies. If we experience exceptionally severe weather, further instructions and publicity on extra help with heating bills will be issued.