Rising gas and electricity bills could leave elderly out in the cold

29 October 2007
High energy prices have added fuel to the National Pensioners Convention’s (NPC) claims that many elderly people will literally ‘catch their deaths’ this winter. The group claims that as many as ten pensioners could die each hour during the winter a result of cold-related illness.

More than 1,000 people, some dressed as pensioners, took to the streets of London on October 24 in an NPC-organised protest against the unfair treatment of the “invisible” older generation. The group is campaigning for the rights of the older generation, which it believes is treated as “second-class citizens”.

NPC general secretary, Joe Harris, said: "Three million older people will have died before the government restores the link with earnings, and the £3.40 a week rise in the state pension next year will do nothing to end the poverty felt by one-in-five older people.”

“The real cost of inflation felt by millions of older people is so high that such a small increase will be immediately swallowed up by council tax, utility bills and the rising costs of living," he added.

The group’s website cites that since 2002/03 gas bills have risen 48.7 per cent, electricity by 32 per cent and water by 12.6 per cent; however the state pension has risen by just 8.7 per cent. It adds that, since 1997, 260,000 more old people have died during the winter months than at other times of the year.

With a colder winter predicted this year, more pensioners will be at risk, and those that cannot afford to turn up the heat may find themselves in increasingly bad health. A recent Department of Health report offers tips for pensioners to stay warm during the winter months, while Government ministers are set to reveal a ten-point nutrition plan aimed at the elderly.

Another tip for staying warm this winter is to cut energy bills by switching gas and electricity provider.

Find out more about compare gas and electricity prices and winter fuel bills