Charity warns ‘unprecedented numbers’ of pensioners may die this winter without energy bill help
“Unprecedented numbers” of pensioners may die in their homes this winter without government help to pay spiralling energy bills, a charity has warned the Tory leadership contenders.
Age UK has written to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, urging them to commit publicly to emergency support for older people and those on low incomes to keep their homes heated.
The charity is also calling on the candidates to back restoring the pensions triple lock to support retirees struggling with the cost-of-living crisis if they become prime minister.
Age UK director Caroline Abrahams said: “The way the cost of living keeps rising is a nightmare for us all, but especially for people on low incomes, among them millions of pensioners.
“Substantial numbers are struggling financially already, but if the economic forecasts are accurate many more pensioners will be plunged into serious trouble come the autumn and winter, including some who until very recently believed their position to be totally secure.
“Older people and others in our society on low incomes will also need a big injection of extra financial support from the Government to see them through the autumn and winter, because inflation is so rapidly eroding the help they were given just a few months ago.
“If this doesn’t happen our sincere belief is that we could see unprecedented numbers of older people dying of cold in their own homes, something we would never say lightly and that is incredibly shocking in the 21st century.”
Age UK conducted a survey of more than 14,000 over-65s about what their priorities were for the next prime minister.
More than half (57%) of those surveyed said restoring the pensions triple lock from April 2023 and help with the cost-of-living crisis was what they wanted to see the most.
A quarter (25%) of those questioned said they wanted to see action on the NHS and social care.
One respondent told the charity current price rises were “almost like going back to January 1940 for some of us when rationing was introduced during Word War II”.
Another said: “We definitely need the triple lock in place otherwise we will have to choose between food or heating. (We have) cut back on everything else so there’s nowhere else to go.”
Energy bills for a typical household could hit £4,266 next year, consultancy Cornwall Insight has warned, while charity National Energy Action has predicted 8.2 million UK households could fall into fuel poverty from October.
In a letter sent by Age UK to Ms Truss and Mr Sunak, the charity wrote: “Before the triple lock hopefully comes into play next April older people have to navigate an autumn and winter during which the cost of essentials like heating, using the phone and getting enough to eat are set to spiral, putting those on low incomes in an impossible position.
“We therefore call on you to make it clear now that you will take determined action to protect the older people, and others in our society, at greatest risk from inflation through this period.”
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