COLD homes where vulnerable and often older people cannot afford to heat their houses has been linked to 380 deaths that occurred last winter in Wiltshire. 90 per cent of the people who died were 65 or older.

Excess Winter deaths in the UK, which is the number of extra deaths compared to the warmer months of the year, have risen by 45 per cent since 1975. Advice for homeowners is to make sure the main living room is heated to at least 21 degrees, with other rooms to at least 18.

Provisional figures show that the number of deaths over winter 2017/18 could be higher than last year.

Malcolm Farrow from Oil and Renewable Heating Technologies said: “The latest government statistics reveal the hidden crisis facing Wiltshire and it is deeply concerning that even in this day and age, the number of winter deaths continues to rise. For far too long this issue has not been given the attention it deserves and too many people are struggling on in silence. Many of us take keeping our houses warm for granted but for a large number of households it is a constant source of anxiety. It is important everyone is aware of the support available which is why we are sharing our winter guide.”