Opinion Former Article

NEA: ‘Get Help Now Before Winter Bites’ urges fuel poverty charity on National Older People’s Day

With the weather getting colder and winter approaching fast, national fuel poverty charity NEA is urging all older people to take action now to ensure they are warm and comfortable in their homes.

Around 2.5 million households with a resident over the age of 60 in England are estimated to be living in fuel poverty* that is they are unable to afford to heat their homes to the level needed to help them keep warm and healthy. Older people are at particular risk because they are more likely to live in homes that have poor heating and insulation, and they are often on low, fixed incomes that make them particularly vulnerable to rising energy costs. Many choose to ration their energy use, unaware that living in a cold home can actually cause or exacerbate a range of serious health conditions such as strokes, heart attacks and bronchitis.

The good news is that there is help available. The Warm Front scheme is a Government funded initiative providing heating and insulation measures for low income households.  The scheme, which is in its final year, has recently broadened its eligibility criteria meaning more people will qualify for assistance.  Energy suppliers also offer a range of assistance to certain older customers, including the Warm Homes Discount scheme, which offers a discount of £130 on energy bills for older customers on certain qualifying benefits.

Maria Wardrobe, Director of External Affairs at NEA and Chair of the Safe Warm Homes Group of the Age Action Alliance said ‘it is vital that older people are able to keep warm in their homes this winter, and I would urge everyone to contact the Warm Front team now on 0800 316 2805 to see if they are eligible for assistance’.

‘Charities, community groups, local authorities and others that work to support older people also have a key role to play in helping to identify and help those that may be in fuel poverty, and to help with this we have developed a new publication Warm Homes Older People, which is a step-by-step guide on how to recognise when someone is in fuel poverty and where to direct them for assistance’.


* Source of statistics - CSE/Consumer Focus NowCast for fuel poverty 2011


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Editor’s notes.
1.     NEA is the UK’s leading fuel poverty charity campaigning for affordable warmth in the homes of vulnerable people. For further details visit http://www.nea.org.uk

2.     Fuel poverty is defined as the need to spend over 10% of household income on fuel costs to maintain adequate warmth for health and comfort.
3.     The Age Action Alliance consists of a range of partners from civil society, the public sector and private sector  working collaboratively to improve the lives of older people and, in particular, to address deprivation and disadvantage among vulnerable older households. Visit: ageactionalliance.org.uk

4.     NEA Chairs the Safe, Warm Homes Working Group of the Age Action Alliance

5.     Copies of the publication Warm Homes Older People can be downloaded at http://www.nea.org.uk/policy-and-research/publications/publications-2012/age-action-alliance

6.     Source of statistics - CSE/Consumer Focus NowCast for fuel poverty 2011

7.     Details of the qualifying criteria for the Warm Front scheme can be found at www.direct.gov/warmfront

8.     Details on the Warm Home Discount Scheme can be found at www.direct.gov/warmhome

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