One in 10 households with an elderly member are unable to afford to heat their home to an adequate temperature. The shocking statistic means one million older households in England live in fuel poverty, according to official figures.
Some 632,000 households with someone aged 60-74 and 374,000 households with someone over 75 were fuel poor in 2022, according to the data from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.
Dennis Reed, director of older people’s campaign group Silver Voices, said: “It is an utter disgrace that in 21st century Britain one million older households are living in fuel poverty.
“Where is the justice of senior citizens, who have paid their taxes all their working lives, not having sufficient income to keep themselves warm in their last few years on this planet?
“Many of these households will be dependent on the old state pension, which does not provide enough cash for life’s essentials any more.
“At £156 per week from April it hardly pays for the week’s shopping before fuel and rent is taken into account.
“The UK state pension is now a poverty pension, and the Chancellor must address this reality in his March Budget, because with the withdrawal of ongoing energy support, hundreds of thousands more older households will fall into fuel poverty this year.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, added: “Despite the Government’s definition of fuel poverty significantly underestimating the scale of the problem these figures are still shocking.
“We know that many older people are now sitting in the cold and dark for fear of turning on their ovens, stoves, kettles, or boilers. Needless to say, this can be devastating for their health and wellbeing.
“The impossible situation many older people now find themselves in as they try everything they can to make ends meet, emphasises the need for a radical rethink of the Government’s energy policy.
“A good first step would be for the Government to confirm that energy prices will be kept at the present rate from April, to avoid fuel poverty worsening any further from the spring.
“Longer term we need a fundamental shift in the Government’s approach and a recognition that being able to heat and power your home shouldn’t be a privilege but a fundamental right.
“If the Government is serious about addressing the epidemic of fuel poverty in our country it is imperative that they introduce an energy social tariff, because this would give people the assurance of permanently lower bills, if they are struggling to make ends meet.”
The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to slash the energy price guarantee to £2,000 a year.
The guarantee, which was announced to temporarily replace the cap set by regulator Ofgem due to soaring prices, currently limits gas and electricity bills to £2,500 a year for a typical household but is due to rise to £3,000 from April.
Lib Dem Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney, said: “The Government must act now to tackle this cost-of-living cliff edge before it’s too late.
“We need to see more support for people, including a cut to energy bills and the doubling of the Winter Fuel Allowance.”
Source: Read Full Article