1 in 4 of Yorkshire’s elderly shiver in fear of fuel bills

A quarter of region's elderly do not heat their homes enough
A quarter of region's elderly do not heat their homes enough
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ALMOST A QUARTER of Yorkshire’s elderly have admitted they do not heat their homes enough - because of their fears of increasing energy bills.

The statistics, compiled by charity Independent Age, also show that three out of five older people in our region consider themselves more isolated in winter as they go out less.

23 per cent of people said they struggle to fuel their homes some, most or all of the time according to figures released today.

And charity workers at Independent Age have called on neighbours and families of elderly people to ensure that they stay warm over winter.

Director of services Lucy Harmer said: “People need to keep in check with older relatives - just giving them a quick phone call after a snowstorm or a really cold day to ensure they’ve got the heating on.

“75% of excess winter deaths each year are of elderly people, and it’s the little things that can really make a difference to keeping someone safe.”

The charity said older people can be more susceptible to fuel poverty as they may find they have to heat their homes for longer due to health and mobility problems and the need to stay indoors for longer.

One-third (33%) of pensioner households have a net weekly income of under £300 and 1.6 million older people in the UK live in poverty, 900,000 of whom live in severe poverty.

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said, “It is saddening that so many pensioners in Yorkshire & the Humber feel more isolated or go out less in winter. While much more needs to be done to ensure that older people get the support they need in winter, there are also many practical actions that can be taken.”

The charity has released a ‘Winter Wise’ leaflet to inform people of how best to keep adequately heated over the cold period.

Tips include wearing several thin layers of clothing, having more milk and dairy to help boost the immune system and drawing the curtains before it gets dark to keep the heat in.

Yorkshire’s elderly fare slightly better than the national average. Almost half (43%) nationwide have gone to bed early to stay warm at least once, with an estimated 890,000 doing this often or every day. 36% said they do not heat their home adequately in winter.

Around one in seven (13%) have gone to a library, shopping centre or used public transport just to stay warm in winter.

The charity estimates that 750,000 elderly people are being forced to choose between paying for food and heating.

People over 80 who live alone currently receive £300 in Winter Fuel Allowance every year, with those under 80 receiving £200.

Couples over 80 receive £300 to split between them.

A charity initiative ‘Warm and Well in North Yorkshire’ was launched earlier this week to help the 26,000 households in the region who struggle with fuel poverty.

The initiative, made up of over twenty Yorkshire organisations and led by Rural Action Yorkshire, was awarded £394,000 from the British Gas Energy Trust’s Healthy Homes Fund to focus on improving winter health, energy efficiency, warming cold homes and providing emergency support.

It will operate this winter and in 2016.