Age UK research shows over 80 per cent of over-65s think the Government should step in to help poorer older people with the costs of heating their homes.
More than three in five over-65s (62 per cent) – equivalent to 7.8 million older people – are worried about heating their homes compared to 43 per cent just six weeks ago, according to new research for Age UK. [i]
Age UK has been shedding light on the many older people who are already feeling the impact of the rising cost of living. Basic household bills are fast becoming unaffordable for many pensioners living on a low fixed income. Recent statistics show the energy price cap will nearly double to £2,400 a year from October,[ii]. This causes worry not only for older people but family carers, preparing to potentially have to start rationing on heating.
Hearing from the community
Age UK have received a vast amount of comments from the public on how they have already started to cut back on heating and other essentials. Here’s what they had to say:
Celia, aged 66-74, said: “Like many elderly people, I’m rationing my heating and trying to think of more ways to keep my head above water financially. With the cost of food and most other necessities going up almost daily, the future, especially over the colder months, looks very bleak indeed.”
Sandra, aged 74, said: “I am a 74 year old pensioner living on the state pension in a privately rented house, If my energy bills increase as much as predicted, despite the help already given, I will not be able to heat my house, eat, feed my little dog, my only companion, and pay my bills without going into further debt as my savings have already been eaten away!”
David, aged 66-74, said: “I can barely afford the energy bills at the moment and have to keep cooking to a minimum in order to be able to heat my flat. As it is, many times I have to turn the heating down to the point where it feels cold because I can’t be sure I will have enough money to pay the bill. All prices seem to rise faster than any increase in my pension and this latest threat of energy bills rising by up to 50% will take many things beyond what I can afford.”
Tips for saving on your heating bills
The Money Saving Expert [iii] has released some top tips to help when it comes to energy costs. Here are a few to check out:
Talk to your supplier as early as possible – they have to help if you’re struggling
If you find yourself struggling to pay energy bills, the advice is to contact your supplier as soon as possible. Under rules from regulator Ofgem, your supplier has to help you – usually by negotiating a payment plan that you can afford.
Households to get up £350 help this year to help with rising energy prices
Households in England, Wales and Scotland are to get up to £350 of Government support to soften the blow of rocketing energy prices. Have a look at the Money Saving Expert article to find out what help is available.
Check if you can get £150 towards energy bills each winter with the warm home discount
The Warm Home Discount scheme requires suppliers with more than 50,000 customers to help vulnerable people in the UK pay for their energy over the winter.
If there’s someone aged 66 or older in the home, you could get up to £300 with the winter fuel payment
Every household with someone born on or before 26 September 1955 is entitled to help towards their winter energy costs. Under the Government’s winter fuel payment scheme, provided you lived in the UK for at lease one day between 20 and 26 September 2021, then regardless of income, you can grab a one-off, tax-free winter fuel payment of between £100 and £300.
Older people and those on certain benefits could get £25 during freezing weather
Under the cold weather payment scheme, older people and those on certain benefits can get a grant to help cover costs when temperatures hit zero degrees or below in their area.
You could get up to 60 days’ respite from debts with the breathing space scheme
The breathing space scheme, officially known as the Debt Respite Scheme, is a Government scheme that can relieve some of the pressures and stress of being in debt.
What to do about mine and/or the person I supports heating bills?
Age UK is urging older people to call its free national advice line on 0800 169 65 65 before turning the heating off or down, to check they are receiving all the financial support available to them, including key benefits such as Pension Credit and Attendance Allowance. In addition, the Charity wants older people to be aware that energy suppliers have a duty to offer support if people are struggling with bills or debt, so is urging people to contact their supplier directly to ask about available support including an affordable repayment plan. [iv].
Anyone who is interested in adding their name to the Charity’s open letter to the Prime Minister can do so by visiting: bit.ly/ageuk-energy