Its Life or Death for many this winter, simple as that.
Age Concern and Help the Aged estimate that one in three pensioner (2.7 million pensioner households) live in fuel poverty and that these households are at the greatest risk of winter deaths, collating figures from 2008-2009 that show a 49% increase in Excess Winter Deaths amoungst low income pensioner households in the uk. 36,700 Excess Winter Deaths last year ammounts to a shocking 300 deaths per day, by ‘excess winter deaths’ they mean no; of deaths above the mean average during the winter months (Dec-March minus Non-Winter Deaths which are from the previous Aug-Nov + the subsequent Deaths from Apr-Jul). These figures come during a period when we have seen massive rises in the cost of energy with current forcasts predicting a rise of between 14-20% by 2020.
Both groups are calling for an Energy Bill and for it to include mandatory social tariffs providing security from fuel poverty and alliviating the worry and risks facing those most vulnerable.
Basing calculations around the average yearly energy bill of £1,026 it is estimated that reductions of energy costs of between £100 and £300 per year would reduce fuel poverty by 45-75%. Thats not alot to ask from a government that happily chuck billions at financial institutions when they run into a bit of bother.
At present and despite the huge number of pensioners living in fuel poverty, only an estimated 800,000 customers benefit from discounted tariffs and as Age Concern/Help the Aged highlight, ‘According to Ofgem, a social tariff must be at least as good as the lowest tariff in the customers area but not all providers comply and offer other lower prices,’ bringing about a problem with complexity and that, ‘Older people complain they do not understand social tariffs or do not know about them. There is a lack of clear information in a format those most in need of social tariffs can access.
Now just think a bit, i’m a bit poor and certainly can’t afford to run my heating as much as i would like but i can put another jumper on, grin and bear it, or, i can go out for a walk, visit a friend, go and check out the dailys in the local library or thaw myself out in the sub tropical climes of my local M&S. As you get older you shed all that excess body fat, become less efficient at converting calories, develop arthritis and rhumatism amoungst a host of other jolly things we all have to look forward to, not to mention the slippy pavements etc and so it’s essential to maintain at least one room of toasty warmness in your house 24hrs as you get on a bit.
Energy companies currently have a voluntary agreement regarding the provision of social tariffs with governmant that ends in 2011. Age Concern and Help the Aged are fronting a campaign to ensure specifically that mandatory social tariffs are introduced so that energy companies have to offer thier lowest tariff to low income consumers irrespective of thier payment method.
Follow the campaign and get involved:
In the meantime Check on your neighbours, offer to do some shopping or some cooking-Both! and check they’ve got some heat.
Until then Stay Warm and chuck another Banker on the fire