Leading charity launches new fuel poverty campaign to help this winter.

Fuel poverty Picture: Getty Images

Fuel poverty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The charity Age UK launch a new campaign to help older people tackle fuel poverty this winter. 

Launching at the end of December 2021, "The Cost Of The Cold" campaign aims to help older households struggling with rising fuel, energy and heating prices because of the Covid pandemic. The charity issues warning that the number of fuel poor older households could reach over 1.1 million by the spring unless the Government takes urgent action

25,681 people have already contacted Age UK to express anxiety about their energy bills and over 6,500 people have written to their local MP to raise concerns about escalating prices and their fears for the months ahead. 

The cold can be most dangerous for older people, they can feel the cold more and have underlying health conditions that can make them ill easier.

Peter, aged 75, told Age UK: “It's a simple choice, heat or eat. I already confine myself to one room and stay in bed as long as possible. If I cut down any further there won't be any point in living.” 

Geraldine, aged 77, said: “I have arthritis which is worse when it is cold. I will have to keep my heating low now. Already I wear gloves on my hands and a heat pack inside my leggings to help my back.” 

Sheila, aged 81, said: “We will have to have the heating off, as the bills are scary.” 

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Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “There’s no doubt that media reports about rising energy bills are filling pensioners on low fixed incomes with absolute dread. More than twenty-five thousand people have told us how worried they are, and it is clear that as things stand, some fully expect to have to choose between cutting down on food or turning down their heating, once the cold weather sets in. Doing either is a potential risk to their health, especially if they are living with serious underlying health conditions like heart disease or COPD" 

“At Age UK our greatest concern is that some older people will not even try to keep their homes adequately warm this winter, for fear of incurring big bills they cannot afford to pay.  Many older people are brilliant at making a small budget go a long way, but that’s unlikely to be enough to protect them from the impact of rising household bills and soaring energy costs this time round"

“New Age UK analysis suggests that another 150,000 older households could be dragged into fuel poverty by the spring unless the Government acts now to provide those at greatest risk with more financial support. We are calling for a package of measures to be brought in immediately, targeted at the older people who need extra help the most. The package should include a £50 grant to those eligible for Cold Weather payment, and a big boost to the Household Support Fund that councils distribute to tackle fuel poverty in their areas. We are also calling for a renewed push to get more older people to claim the Pension Credit they are due"

“We must do everything possible to safeguard the health and wellbeing of pensioners on low fixed incomes. The energy price cap offers valuable protection against prices going through the roof, and the Government should move quickly to enshrine it in law, but Ministers have to go further to give the poorest pensioners the confidence to keep their heating turned up high enough when temperatures are cold"

“Above all, we must ensure that turmoil in the wholesale energy market does not translate into tragedy for any older person this winter. In most years it would be hyperbole to suggest there was a risk of older people freezing to death in their own homes, but the risk cannot be completely discounted this year. That’s why we need Government action to ensure every older person comes through safe and well.”