Fresh warning as cold deaths dip to low of 18,200

Pensioners are the those most vulnerable to dying from the cold. Credit: Press Association

Almost 20,000 people, the vast majority of them pensioners, died of the cold last year, according to the Office of National Statistics.

18,200 "excess winter deaths" were recorded in the 2013/2014 winter, the lowest since records began being collected in 1950/1951.

Last year's deaths are down more than 40% from the previously total - 31,000 people were killed 2012/2013.

The ONS said older women over 75 are the most likely to die - with over 14,000 over 75s dying last year.

Last year's winter was the wettest since records began 250 years ago - but the freezing temperatures endured in November were avoided for December and January.

Charities have warned that the drop was caused by milder temperatures and urged older people and those caring from them to remain vigilant.

Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said it was vitally important that older people claimed all the benefits they were entitled to and turned their heating up to stay warm.

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in London today, calling for the government to do more to end fuel poverty.

Campaigners said the reduction in deaths was a "blip" and that the government was not doing enough to protect those vulnerable older people who could not afford to stay warm.

Simon Bottery from Independent Age said 18,000 deaths was unacceptable.

Read more: 3.5 million elderly 'at risk from winter cold'

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the government had allocated extra funds for those at risk.